Category ►►► Hezbollah Horrors

April 22, 2010

The Coming Conflagration: the Inevitable Ground War Against Iran

Hezbollah Horrors , Missile Muscle , War Against Radical Islamism
Hatched by Dafydd

The mullocracy of Iran has made brutally clear that they will not be satisfied with anything less than a full-scale, intercontinental war against the West, which means (certainly to them) against the United States of America. And in the process of sending this message, they have humiliated and cuckolded our weak and frankly delusional president, Barack H. Obama: His policy of "engagement" -- which appears to comprise begging and pleading with Iran President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to be his Facebook friend -- lies in ruins; in the process, he has made America the laughingstock of the ummah.

Yes, for all his faults, I certainly miss the muscular foreign policy of George W. Bush.

This is what I'm talking about:

Iran is increasing its paramilitary Qods force operatives in Venezuela while covertly continuing supplies of weapons and explosives to Taliban and other insurgents in Afghanistan and Iraq, according to the Pentagon's first report to Congress on Tehran's military.

The report on Iranian military power provides new details on the group known formally as the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps-Qods Force (IRGC-QF), the Islamist shock troops deployed around the world to advance Iranian interests. The unit is aligned with terrorists in Iraq, Afghanistan, Israel, North Africa and Latin America, and the report warns that U.S. forces are likely to battle the Iranian paramilitaries in the future.

The Qods force "maintains operational capabilities around the world," the report says, adding that "it is well established in the Middle East and North Africa and recent years have witnessed an increased presence in Latin America, particularly Venezuela."

So in response to all of the Obamacle's "diplomacy" towards Iran; in response to all the apologies he has made them about America the bully, the unilateral concessions to Russia on sanctions, the heavy-handed pressure on Israel to capitulate to the Palestinians; in response to every Eid and Ramadan greeting Obama has extended to "the Iranian people;" and in particular, in response to the clear policy statement that we will not attack Iran for any reason, and that we shall sit idly by and let them get their nukes... Iran's response to this appeasement is to send even more special forces to our own backyard.

Thank you, Mr. Hope N. Change.

The benefit to Venezuela President-for-Life Oogo Chavez of an infusion of highly trained, brutal, and very combat experienced "shock troops" is obvious: Chavez rules by terror, but the Venezuelan military is frankly pathetic. In particular, Venezuela's next-door neighbor, America-friendly Colombia, has a significantly better trained and better funded military -- according to the CIA World Factbook, Colombia spends about $13.6 billion annually on its military, three times the $4.2 billion spent by Venezuela; and while Colombia President Álvaro Uribe Vélez has his own internal problems fighting the Marxist insurgency -- Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) -- I suspect that Oogo Chavez must deploy a lot more of his military just to maintain his barbarous rule.

Chavez needs military aid, which the Iranian pact supplies him; but what does Ahmadinejad get? Venezuela is not a Moslem country, nor will it ever be. It's nowhere near Iran, and there is no ideological connection between them, other than hatred of America. And while Venezuela has a lot of oil, so does Iran and hardly needs any crude from Oogo.

That one shared trait then must logically be the answer: The only reason for Iran to send Qods-Force troops to Venezuela is to threaten or attack the United States:

The report gives no details on the activities of the Iranians in Venezuela and Latin America. Iranian-backed terrorists have conducted few attacks in the region. However, U.S. intelligence officials say Qods operatives are developing networks of terrorists in the region who could be called to attack the United States in the event of a conflict over Iran's nuclear program.

Qods force support for extremists includes providing arms, funding and paramilitary training and is not constrained by Islamist ideology. "Many of the groups it supports do not share, and sometimes openly oppose, Iranian revolutionary principles, but Iran supports them because they share common interests or enemies," the report says.

George W. Bush, I believe, once said (if I may paraphrase) that the difference between the Vietnam war and the war against the Iran/al-Qaeda axis is that unlike in Vietnam, if we retreat from the jihadis, they will follow us home and continue the war on American soil. In 2001, al-Qaeda proved it.

It's pretty clear this is exactly the situation we see in Latin America: Under President B.O., we have (in Iran's view) fled the battleground. As Lee Smith discusses extensively in his book on Arab culture, the Strong Horse, the reaction this provokes in the Moslem world is not one of sympathy for the vanquished but rather the bloodthirsty desire to follow and utterly destroy the beaten foe. "Mercy" only has meaning within the ummah as a (possible) response to "submission."

Even though Persian Iran is not Arab, its Moslem culture and history of empire cause it to react just the same: Ahmadinejad unquestionably believes that Iran is the "strong horse," America the weak horse. In his world, once the Iranian people realize how the power has changed with the passing of the Bush administration, they will quickly regroup behind the new strong horse. Thus, when we retreat and submit to Iranian demands and insults, not only does Obama encourage Iran to project yet greater force into the Western hemisphere, buddying up to our greatest enemy in Latin America; but the One We Have Been Regretting Already also manages to strengthen the hand of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad within Iran itself. Obama executes a perfect double-play -- against America.

The latest aggression in Venezuela hardly occurs in a vacuum. Iran has repeatedly attacked American forces, both indirectly and directly, for decades, going all the way back to the hostage crisis of 1979. Attacks continue to the present day:

  • In response to military intelligence that Iranian troops had infiltrated southern Iraq, President Bush responded forcefully; from 2006 to 2008, we captured a number of Qods Force officers and other personnel.

    In July of last year, President Obama ordered five of the most senior Qods Force detainees released from custody and handed over to the Iraqis to be returned to Iran. The president never really explained what he hoped to accomplish by such blatant appeasement. It was not reciprocated by the mullahs.

  • We fought a long and ultimately successful campaign against Iran's biggest puppet within Iraq, Muqtada Sadr, driving him to exile in Iran; there he remains, so far as I know -- hunkered down in the holy city of Qom (217th holiest city in all of Islam!)
  • Iran also gave powerful explosively formed penetrators (EFPs) to Shiite insurgents in Iraq, along with Qods Force trainers and commando leaders; EFPs are powerful enough even to rip apart our Abrams main battle tanks.
  • Iran has also been supplying Afghan insurgents with high-powered and technologically sophisticated weaponry with which to fight not only the democratic Afghan government (democratic by the standards of the "non-integrating gap") but also the American military forces prosecuting the Afghanistan counterinsurgency (COIN) under the command of Gen. Stanley McChrystal:

    Qods forces in Afghanistan are working through nongovernmental organizations and political opposition groups, the report says. Tehran also is backing insurgent leaders Gulbuddin Hekmatyar and Ismail Khan.

    "Arms caches have been recently uncovered [in Afghanistan] with large amounts of Iranian-manufactured weapons, to include 107 millimeter rockets, which we assess IRGC-QF delivered to Afghan militants," the report says, noting that recent manufacture dates on the weapons suggest the support is "ongoing."

    "Tehran's support to the Taliban is inconsistent with their historic enmity, but fits with Iran's strategy of backing many groups to ensure that it will have a positive relationship with the eventual leaders," the report says.

  • Most recently, Iran transferred Scud missiles to Hezbollah in Lebanon; that branch of Hezbollah is nominally controlled by Syria, operating under the direction of Iran. The Scuds have a range of 435 miles and are quite accurate, in contrast to the rockets Hezbollah has been shooting at Israeli cities recently, which have a maximum range of 60 miles (and very little accuracy at even half that distance). This brings nearly all of Israel within Hezbollah's range, including Tel Aviv, Israel's second-largest city with a population of nearly 400,000... and the natural target, as the capital and most populous city, Jerusalem, is also holy to Moslems (the 355th holiest city in all of Islam!)

    It was this same Lebanese branch of Hezbollah that directly slaughtered 241 American Marines, sailors, and soldiers (along with 58 French paratroopers) in the Beirut barracks bombing of 1983. Qods Forces also likely had a hand in the terrorist attack on Americans at the Khobar Towers in 1996, killing 19 American servicemen.

Bluntly put, Iran is already at war with America, Israel, and the West, and has been since 1979. In response to Obama's policy of Neville-Chamberlain like capitulation, it has only gotten more aggressive, belligerent, and intractable. And just like the last evil empire we defeated, Iran has boldly moved its military forces into our hemisphere to threaten or even outright attack the United States homeland, secure in the knowledge that even if they did, the only response likely from the Obama administration would be a public tongue-lashing -- followed by a furious fusillade of indictments.

Only two possible endings exist to this buildup of Qods Force in Venezuela and around the world: Either we ultimately go to all-out war against Iran and defeat it, overthrow Ahmadinejad, Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, and the mullahs, and and "drain the swamp" by democratizing Persia (same caveat about "democracy")... or else Iran goes to all-out war first and defeats us. If we respond by retreating in panic and confusion, then we cede the entire Middle East to what will become an Iranian Caliphate... a crescent stretching from the pyramids of Egypt to the minarets of Istanbul, across the Hindu Kush to Islamabad, encompassing the aptly named Persian Gulf, and with colonies and outposts speckled across Africa, India, and Latin America.

I know which option our current Capitulator in Chief will choose; through Secretary of Defense (and neutered Republican) Robert Gates, Obama has already signalled his intentions: He intends to do nothing:

Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates recently played down the growing Iranian influence in the Chavez government. Asked about Iran's ties to Venezuela, Bolivia and Ecuador, Mr. Gates said, "I think it makes for interesting public relations on the part of the Iranians, the Venezuelans."

"I certainly don't see Venezuela at this point as a military challenge or threat," Mr. Gates said during a visit to the region.

Well, neither do the rest of us, Mr. G.! Neither is Syria, to pick another small ally of the enemy.

Iran itself, however, is a different question, one that Gates should not have begged with a snark: Iran has "the largest missile force in the Middle East" (the Moslem Middle East, one presumes the Washington Times means) and borders the Persian Gulf and the Straight of Hormuz, through which much of the world's oil passes -- including most of the Middle-East oil we buy to fill the gap left by our truculent refusal to responsibly develop our own oil, natural gas, and coal fields. Iran has already overtly threatened, if attacked, to sink a tanker or two in the Straight to shut down all the Western economies, possibly for years. (I wonder: If Iran carried out its horrific threat, then could we drill in ANWR and the Gulf of Mexico?)

Oh yes, and I almost forgot; there's also that pesky "nuclear warhead atop a Shahab-3 missile" problem. That might complicate a war with Iran two or three years from now.

Fortunately, I don't think Iran will be ready to launch such a cataclysmic attack before 2013, so we still have a chance to make the only sane decision and launch a pre-emptive war. (By "pre-emptive," I mean like our other putatively pre-emptive war in Iraq, in which we finally responded to the latest casus belli after twenty years of provocation.)

The Herman Option is more difficult now; evidently, somebody on the Guardian Council staff reads Big Lizards, and Iran has been building more gasoline refineries and trying to strengthen its existing facilities against attack. But the option is still available -- at a somewhat greater human cost than if George W. Bush had acted before leaving office, as he promised he would. I suggest that now is the time to take it; that door may no longer be open for the next president.

Instead, Obama's legacy will be to force us to use a much longer, more expensive, and tremendously bloodier invasion of Persia proper, fighting against the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, the IRG Qods Force, and Hezbollah in Iran, Syria, and Lebanon. Call that the "no-option Obama mandate."

That is, if we have any money left after four years of Obamunism.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, April 22, 2010, at the time of 3:02 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

June 29, 2008

Olmert On a Nutshell: Yesterday's Dead Outweigh Tomorrow's Victims

Hezbollah Horrors , Israel Matters , Palestinian Perils and Pratfalls
Hatched by Dafydd

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.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, June 29, 2008, at the time of 4:54 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

May 15, 2008

Appease Porridge Hot, Appease Porridge Cold

Hezbollah Horrors , Iran Matters , Liberal Lunacy , Presidential Campaign Camp and Porkinstance
Hatched by Dafydd

In a brilliant speech before the Knesset today, President George W. Bush said the following (you can read the complete speech by clicking the Slither On):

There are good and decent people who cannot fathom the darkness in these men and try to explain away their words. It's natural, but it is deadly wrong. As witnesses to evil in the past, we carry a solemn responsibility to take these words seriously. Jews and Americans have seen the consequences of disregarding the words of leaders who espouse hatred. And that is a mistake the world must not repeat in the 21st century.

Some seem to believe that we should negotiate with the terrorists and radicals, as if some ingenious argument will persuade them they have been wrong all along. We have heard this foolish delusion before. As Nazi tanks crossed into Poland in 1939, an American senator declared: "Lord, if I could only have talked to Hitler, all this might have been avoided." We have an obligation to call this what it is -- the false comfort of appeasement, which has been repeatedly discredited by history.

Almost immediately, Barack Obama reacted with volcanic fury, leaping to the conclusion that the warning against "appeasement" was aimed squarely at him:

By tradition, partisan politics comes to a halt when a U.S. president is on foreign soil, and Bush's remarks led Obama to quickly cry foul. The first-term Illinois senator responded to the comments as if they were criticism of his position that as president he would be willing to personally meet with Iran's leaders and those of other regimes the United States has deemed rogue.

"It is sad that President Bush would use a speech to the Knesset on the 60th anniversary of Israel's independence to launch a false political attack," Obama said in a statement his aides distributed. "George Bush knows that I have never supported engagement with terrorists, and the president's extraordinary politicization of foreign policy and the politics of fear do nothing to secure the American people or our stalwart ally Israel." [Actually, if they help keep Obama out of the Oval Office, then I think they do a tremendous lot to secure the American people and our stalwart ally Israel!]

Let's ponder that exchange for a moment. I see three fascinating dynamics at play in the fields of the Obamessiah...

Dynamic 1: "The wicked flee when no man pursueth"

Bush attacked appeasement -- and Obama instantly recognized himself, reacting angrily and defensively. So even Obama realizes that his proposed unconditional dialoging with Mahmoud, Jong-Il, Raul, and Oogo skirts perilously close to appeasement.

But since Obama sees America -- not Iran, North Korea, Cuba, or Venezuela -- as the cause of all the world's ills, he truculently believes that it's up to us to "make amends." We must meet with those we have "wronged" by our "cowboy diplomacy" all these years -- which wrongs created a patriotic backlash that takes the form of groups we falsely label as "terrorists" (that would be Hamas, Hezbollah, even al-Qaeda). We must meet with our victims and humble ourselves before them; then they will forgive us and stop all the attacks against us... which were all based on a GOP-inspired misunderstanding anyway.

(Obama likely learned this attitude from two decades of listening to Jeremiah Wright's sermons.)

But he knows he can never say such a thing out loud: He would never be elected. In his own mind, he probably imagines this is because Americans are afraid the face the truth; but for whatever reason, this attitude is a secret he's trying desperately to hide.

Thus Obama's guilty start when he hears that very thing trip from the not so agile lips of George W. Bush. Since it's so overwhelmingly obvious to Barack Obama that Bush meant to single him out, he probably didn't even notice that his name never came up.

Dynamic 2: "If you know who I mean -- and I think you do!"

But in reality, I think it is patently obvious that Bush had Obama directly in mind... and that he knew everyone in the country (and especially Obama himself) would "get it." The presidential spokeschick had a quip all ready to run once Obama plunged into the trap as everyone in the Bush (and McCain) teams expected:

In turn, White House press secretary Dana Perino denied that the Knesset remark was aimed at Obama. In fact, the language is fairly typical for Bush speeches, and Gordon Johndroe, a national security spokesman for the president, said Bush was referring to "a wide range of people who have talked to or suggested we talk to Hamas, Hezbollah or their state sponsors" over a long period of time.

One such person most recently was former President Carter, who held talks with Hamas leaders, leading to criticism from Bush officials as well as Obama and McCain.

Even as the White House said Bush meant no dig at the Democrat, Perino couldn't resist the opportunity to get in a small one.

"I understand when you're running for office you sometimes think the world revolves around you. That is not always true. And it is not true in this case," she said.

"Um... thank you, Ma'am. May I have my eggs back again now?"

Barack Obama looks a fool, not only for instantly leaping to the conclusion that "appeaser" must mean himself -- but then for being so outraged and offended, getting all het up, when in fact nobody even mentioned him. It makes him seem not only guilty but narcissistic.

This was a sly and very effective nudge-nudge wink-wink attack on the New Kid by the president.

Dynamic 3: The "left-handed monkey wrench"

And boy, did it work like a charm!

There is a tradition in many fields that when the New Kid first shows up to work, he is given a number of bootless errands and impossible tasks to perform, things that a more experienced worker would instantly recognize as senseless; the stereotypical version is sending the new hire on the assembly line in search of a "left-handed monkey wrench."

The trick is based upon ignorance and inexperience... and that is just what Barack Obama evinced in this humiliating exchange.

Any experienced politician would immediately recognize the offer of Fool's Mate -- and would decline. Consider this response, had the theoretical target been, say, Bill Clinton...

George W. Bush: "We have an obligation to call this what it is -- the false comfort of appeasement, which has been repeatedly discredited by history."

(Bill waits for a question at his current campaign stop)

Reporter: "Mr. President, what do you think of the line about appeasers in the speech by that fascist guy illegally occupying Al Gore's and John Kerry's White House?"

Bill Clinton: "Well, heck, I listened to that speech -- and I couldn't agree more. The president was sure right about that: We can never 'negotiate with the terrorists and radicals,' and I'm glad he understands that. I just wish he would understand that there are some people, heads of state, that you just gotta talk to. I mean, heck, when I was president, I always --" [We skip forty minutes of self praise.]

See, the trick only works if the target publicly recognizes himself as the butt of the speech. If instead he pretends not to notice, then what is the president going to do? He can't out and out say, "and I mean you, Bubba!" because then the target could rightly be outraged.

But Obama was such a green hayseed that he ran pell mell right into the bear trap, flapping his arms and caterwauling like to wake the dead; nobody in America could fail to notice when his leg was grabbed by the steel jaws.

Once the voters notice, they will laugh, because he just made himself look like such a buffoon.

"You can't make a silk purse out of a pig's breakfast"

But when they finish laughing, many undecided Americans will stop to ponder a couple of points:

  • The connection between Barack Obama's grandiose foreign-policy schemes and appeasement (and by extension, the fecklessness of the entire Democratic Party)... sure, maybe he doesn't call for dialog with Hassan Nasrallah, secretary-general of Hezbollah; but he calls for dialog with Nasrallah's boss, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Which is worse?
  • The poor judgment and cranky attitude exhibited by Obama accusing the president of "launch[ing] a false political attack." It's like the old coot all the kids love to torment, because they know will always get apoplectic and scream, "You kids get outa my yard!"

I cannot guarantee this will immediately show up in the polls; gaffes do their best work in the weeks leading up to the election, as the accumulated weight of a hundred stupid miscommunications come back to haunt the nominee. But I strongly suspect this will raise serious doubts in the minds of more than a few undecided voters about entrusting the presidency at this time to an entry-level candidate.

(If you don't feel like jumping to the White House website, the full speech by the president is just below.)

President Bush Addresses the Israeli Knesset - May 15th, 2008

President Peres and Mr. Prime Minister, Madam Speaker, thank very much for hosting this special session. President Beinish, Leader of the Opposition Netanyahu, Ministers, members of the Knesset, distinguished guests: Shalom. Laura and I are thrilled to be back in Israel. We have been deeply moved by the celebrations of the past two days. And this afternoon, I am honored to stand before one of the world's great democratic assemblies and convey the wishes of the American people with these words: Yom Ha'atzmaut Sameach.

It is a rare privilege for the American President to speak to the Knesset. Although the Prime Minister told me there is something even rarer -- to have just one person in this chamber speaking at a time. My only regret is that one of Israel's greatest leaders is not here to share this moment. He is a warrior for the ages, a man of peace, a friend. The prayers of the American people are with Ariel Sharon.

We gather to mark a momentous occasion. Sixty years ago in Tel Aviv, David Ben-Gurion proclaimed Israel's independence, founded on the "natural right of the Jewish people to be masters of their own fate." What followed was more than the establishment of a new country. It was the redemption of an ancient promise given to Abraham and Moses and David -- a homeland for the chosen people Eretz Yisrael.

Eleven minutes later, on the orders of President Harry Truman, the United States was proud to be the first nation to recognize Israel's independence. And on this landmark anniversary, America is proud to be Israel's closest ally and best friend in the world.

The alliance between our governments is unbreakable, yet the source of our friendship runs deeper than any treaty. It is grounded in the shared spirit of our people, the bonds of the Book, the ties of the soul. When William Bradford stepped off the Mayflower in 1620, he quoted the words of Jeremiah: "Come let us declare in Zion the word of God." The founders of my country saw a new promised land and bestowed upon their towns names like Bethlehem and New Canaan. And in time, many Americans became passionate advocates for a Jewish state.

Centuries of suffering and sacrifice would pass before the dream was fulfilled. The Jewish people endured the agony of the pogroms, the tragedy of the Great War, and the horror of the Holocaust -- what Elie Wiesel called "the kingdom of the night." Soulless men took away lives and broke apart families. Yet they could not take away the spirit of the Jewish people, and they could not break the promise of God. When news of Israel's freedom finally arrived, Golda Meir, a fearless woman raised in Wisconsin, could summon only tears. She later said: "For two thousand years we have waited for our deliverance. Now that it is here it is so great and wonderful that it surpasses human words."

The joy of independence was tempered by the outbreak of battle, a struggle that has continued for six decades. Yet in spite of the violence, in defiance of the threats, Israel has built a thriving democracy in the heart of the Holy Land. You have welcomed immigrants from the four corners of the Earth. You have forged a free and modern society based on the love of liberty, a passion for justice, and a respect for human dignity. You have worked tirelessly for peace. You have fought valiantly for freedom.

My country's admiration for Israel does not end there. When Americans look at Israel, we see a pioneer spirit that worked an agricultural miracle and now leads a high-tech revolution. We see world-class universities and a global leader in business and innovation and the arts. We see a resource more valuable than oil or gold: the talent and determination of a free people who refuse to let any obstacle stand in the way of their destiny.

I have been fortunate to see the character of Israel up close. I have touched the Western Wall, seen the sun reflected in the Sea of Galilee, I have prayed at Yad Vashem. And earlier today, I visited Masada, an inspiring monument to courage and sacrifice. At this historic site, Israeli soldiers swear an oath: "Masada shall never fall again." Citizens of Israel: Masada shall never fall again, and America will be at your side.

This anniversary is a time to reflect on the past. It's also an opportunity to look to the future. As we go forward, our alliance will be guided by clear principles -- shared convictions rooted in moral clarity and unswayed by popularity polls or the shifting opinions of international elites.

We believe in the matchless value of every man, woman, and child. So we insist that the people of Israel have the right to a decent, normal, and peaceful life, just like the citizens of every other nation.

We believe that democracy is the only way to ensure human rights. So we consider it a source of shame that the United Nations routinely passes more human rights resolutions against the freest democracy in the Middle East than any other nation in the world.

We believe that religious liberty is fundamental to a civilized society. So we condemn anti-Semitism in all forms -- whether by those who openly question Israel's right to exist, or by others who quietly excuse them.

We believe that free people should strive and sacrifice for peace. So we applaud the courageous choices Israeli's leaders have made. We also believe that nations have a right to defend themselves and that no nation should ever be forced to negotiate with killers pledged to its destruction.

We believe that targeting innocent lives to achieve political objectives is always and everywhere wrong. So we stand together against terror and extremism, and we will never let down our guard or lose our resolve.

The fight against terror and extremism is the defining challenge of our time. It is more than a clash of arms. It is a clash of visions, a great ideological struggle. On the one side are those who defend the ideals of justice and dignity with the power of reason and truth. On the other side are those who pursue a narrow vision of cruelty and control by committing murder, inciting fear, and spreading lies.

This struggle is waged with the technology of the 21st century, but at its core it is an ancient battle between good and evil. The killers claim the mantle of Islam, but they are not religious men. No one who prays to the God of Abraham could strap a suicide vest to an innocent child, or blow up guiltless guests at a Passover Seder, or fly planes into office buildings filled with unsuspecting workers. In truth, the men who carry out these savage acts serve no higher goal than their own desire for power. They accept no God before themselves. And they reserve a special hatred for the most ardent defenders of liberty, including Americans and Israelis.

And that is why the founding charter of Hamas calls for the "elimination" of Israel. And that is why the followers of Hezbollah chant "Death to Israel, Death to America!" That is why Osama bin Laden teaches that "the killing of Jews and Americans is one of the biggest duties." And that is why the President of Iran dreams of returning the Middle East to the Middle Ages and calls for Israel to be wiped off the map.

There are good and decent people who cannot fathom the darkness in these men and try to explain away their words. It's natural, but it is deadly wrong. As witnesses to evil in the past, we carry a solemn responsibility to take these words seriously. Jews and Americans have seen the consequences of disregarding the words of leaders who espouse hatred. And that is a mistake the world must not repeat in the 21st century.

Some seem to believe that we should negotiate with the terrorists and radicals, as if some ingenious argument will persuade them they have been wrong all along. We have heard this foolish delusion before. As Nazi tanks crossed into Poland in 1939, an American senator declared: "Lord, if I could only have talked to Hitler, all this might have been avoided." We have an obligation to call this what it is -- the false comfort of appeasement, which has been repeatedly discredited by history.

Some people suggest if the United States would just break ties with Israel, all our problems in the Middle East would go away. This is a tired argument that buys into the propaganda of the enemies of peace, and America utterly rejects it. Israel's population may be just over 7 million. But when you confront terror and evil, you are 307 million strong, because the United States of America stands with you.

America stands with you in breaking up terrorist networks and denying the extremists sanctuary. America stands with you in firmly opposing Iran's nuclear weapons ambitions. Permitting the world's leading sponsor of terror to possess the world's deadliest weapons would be an unforgivable betrayal for future generations. For the sake of peace, the world must not allow Iran to have a nuclear weapon.

Ultimately, to prevail in this struggle, we must offer an alternative to the ideology of the extremists by extending our vision of justice and tolerance and freedom and hope. These values are the self-evident right of all people, of all religions, in all the world because they are a gift from the Almighty God. Securing these rights is also the surest way to secure peace. Leaders who are accountable to their people will not pursue endless confrontation and bloodshed. Young people with a place in their society and a voice in their future are less likely to search for meaning in radicalism. Societies where citizens can express their conscience and worship their God will not export violence, they will be partners in peace.

The fundamental insight, that freedom yields peace, is the great lesson of the 20th century. Now our task is to apply it to the 21st. Nowhere is this work more urgent than here in the Middle East. We must stand with the reformers working to break the old patterns of tyranny and despair. We must give voice to millions of ordinary people who dream of a better life in a free society. We must confront the moral relativism that views all forms of government as equally acceptable and thereby consigns whole societies to slavery. Above all, we must have faith in our values and ourselves and confidently pursue the expansion of liberty as the path to a peaceful future.

That future will be a dramatic departure from the Middle East of today. So as we mark 60 years from Israel's founding, let us try to envision the region 60 years from now. This vision is not going to arrive easily or overnight; it will encounter violent resistance. But if we and future Presidents and future Knessets maintain our resolve and have faith in our ideals, here is the Middle East that we can see:

Israel will be celebrating the 120th anniversary as one of the world's great democracies, a secure and flourishing homeland for the Jewish people. The Palestinian people will have the homeland they have long dreamed of and deserved -- a democratic state that is governed by law, and respects human rights, and rejects terror. From Cairo to Riyadh to Baghdad and Beirut, people will live in free and independent societies, where a desire for peace is reinforced by ties of diplomacy and tourism and trade. Iran and Syria will be peaceful nations, with today's oppression a distant memory and where people are free to speak their minds and develop their God-given talents. Al Qaeda and Hezbollah and Hamas will be defeated, as Muslims across the region recognize the emptiness of the terrorists' vision and the injustice of their cause.

Overall, the Middle East will be characterized by a new period of tolerance and integration. And this doesn't mean that Israel and its neighbors will be best of friends. But when leaders across the region answer to their people, they will focus their energies on schools and jobs, not on rocket attacks and suicide bombings. With this change, Israel will open a new hopeful chapter in which its people can live a normal life, and the dream of Herzl and the founders of 1948 can be fully and finally realized.

This is a bold vision, and some will say it can never be achieved. But think about what we have witnessed in our own time. When Europe was destroying itself through total war and genocide, it was difficult to envision a continent that six decades later would be free and at peace. When Japanese pilots were flying suicide missions into American battleships, it seemed impossible that six decades later Japan would be a democracy, a lynchpin of security in Asia, and one of America's closest friends. And when waves of refugees arrived here in the desert with nothing, surrounded by hostile armies, it was almost unimaginable that Israel would grow into one of the freest and most successful nations on the earth.

Yet each one of these transformations took place. And a future of transformation is possible in the Middle East, so long as a new generation of leaders has the courage to defeat the enemies of freedom, to make the hard choices necessary for peace, and stand firm on the solid rock of universal values.

Sixty years ago, on the eve of Israel's independence, the last British soldiers departing Jerusalem stopped at a building in the Jewish quarter of the Old City. An officer knocked on the door and met a senior rabbi. The officer presented him with a short iron bar -- the key to the Zion Gate -- and said it was the first time in 18 centuries that a key to the gates of Jerusalem had belonged to a Jew. His hands trembling, the rabbi offered a prayer of thanksgiving to God, "Who had granted us life and permitted us to reach this day." Then he turned to the officer, and uttered the words Jews had awaited for so long: "I accept this key in the name of my people."

Over the past six decades, the Jewish people have established a state that would make that humble rabbi proud. You have raised a modern society in the Promised Land, a light unto the nations that preserves the legacy of Abraham and Isaac and Jacob. And you have built a mighty democracy that will endure forever and can always count on the United States of America to be at your side. God bless.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, May 15, 2008, at the time of 8:00 PM | Comments (18) | TrackBack

November 13, 2007

Newsbrief: FBI Gumshoe Turned CIA Spook May Have Been Hezbollah Plant

CIA CYA , Hezbollah Horrors
Hatched by Dafydd

Not much to analyze yet on this one, but it's a case to keep an eye on: Will the drive-by media bother to further investigate this guilty plea -- given that the original administrative screwups happened under (ahem) the previous president?

A Lebanese-born C.I.A. officer who had previously worked as an F.B.I. agent pleaded guilty today to charges that she illegally sought classified information from government computers about the radical Islamic group Hezbollah.

The defendant, Nada Nadim Prouty, who also confessed that she had obtained American citizenship fraudulently, faces up to 16 years in prison under the plea agreement, which appeared to expose grave flaws in the methods used by both the Central Intelligence Agency and the Federal Bureau of Investigation to conduct background checks on its investigators.

Prouty fraudulently obtained residency in 1990 by paying an American citizen to marry her. She obtained U.S. citizenship in 1994, then got herself hired in 1997 as a special agent of the FBI, largely (it appears) on her ability to speak Arabic.

Meanwhile, Prouty's ne'er-do-well brother-in-law (her sister's husband) had already become a fugitive from justice for "a scheme to funnel millions of dollars from his business to people in Lebanon;" but the FBI failed to discover that in her background check. The New York Times doesn't tell us who those "people" were, why they were to receive such largess, nor whether they were affiliated with Hezbollah; but they do note that the sister and the brother-in-law attended a Hezbollah fundraiser in August 2002:

The plea agreement noted, however, that Ms. Prouty’s sister and brother-in-law attended a fundraising event in Lebanon in August 2002 at which the keynote speaker was Sheikh Muhammed Hussein Fadlallah, the spiritual leader of Hezbollah. Sheikh Fadallah has been designated by the United States government as a terrorist leader.

In 2002 and 2003, Prouty romped through the FBI computers, conducting some highly suggestive and suspicious searches:

Ms. Prouty acknowledged two sets of illegal computer searches at the F.B.I. The first, in September 2002, involved case files that contained her name, her sister’s name or her brother-in-law’s name. The second, in June 2003, involved files from the national-security investigation of Hezbollah that was being conducted in Detroit, which has one of the nation’s largest Arabic-speaking communities.

She has pled guilty and could receive up to sixteen years in a federal slam.

So consider this a heads-up; let's all see if there is any media tracking of this extremely important story. And the first question will be... where does the NYT place it on the print version of the newspaper?

The second would be equally illuminating: Since this was a plea bargain, she must have been charged with more serious offenses that were pled down. What were those original charges? Did they include being a Hezbollah agent within the FBI and CIA?

Keep watching the spies...

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, November 13, 2007, at the time of 7:43 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

February 10, 2007

Iran Strategies 7: Is the Game Afoot?

Hezbollah Horrors , Iran Matters , Iraq Matters , War Against Radical Islamism
Hatched by Dafydd

The left-wing U.K. Guardian newspaper -- formerly the Manchester Guardian -- is banging pots and pans, warning that U.S. plans to attack Iran are "well advanced;" and that even if we don't attack, our military posture could cause us to drift into "accidental war."

Please, let it be true!

Our previous posts in this series examining our options anent Iran are:

  1. Iran Strategies 1: the Guillotine Gambit
  2. Iran Strategies 2: Beachhead Bingo
  3. Iran Strategies 3: Re-examining the "Default Assault"
  4. Iran Strategies 4: the Econostrike
  5. Iran Strategies 5: the Joint-Stike Attack
  6. Iran Strategies 6: Preparing For the "Herman Option?"

The last link above is the most important, as it details the strategy whose components we appear to have emplaced already (as soon as the carrier battle group of the USS John Stennis arrives in the Persian Gulf).

Let's serious consider the Guardian's factual claims, while not succumbing to their existential angst over the dreadful idea that we might actually strike back at an enemy that has attacked us repeatedly and has been threatening us with death and destruction since the Iranian revolution.

The Guardian is desperately trying awaken us, Paul Revere-like, to the terrible danger that President Bush may order a strike against Iran. But to me, at least, the screeching has the opposite impact: I rest easier in my sleep, knowing we may go to war against Iran sooner, when they are weak, rather than later, when they are strong:

US preparations for an air strike against Iran are at an advanced stage, in spite of repeated public denials by the Bush administration, according to informed sources in Washington.

The present military build-up in the Gulf would allow the US to mount an attack by the spring. But the sources said that if there was an attack, it was more likely next year, just before Mr Bush leaves office.

Certainly we have casus belli; there now appears to be no dissent among the intelligence agencies that Iran is at the very least supplying Shiite death squads in Iraq "the most lethal weapon" in their arsenal... and that Iran knows this explosive, manufactured in Iran and sold or given to the Shiite militias, is killing American troops:

The most lethal weapon directed against American troops in Iraq is an explosive-packed cylinder that United States intelligence asserts is being supplied by Iran.

The assertion of an Iranian role in supplying the device to Shiite militias reflects broad agreement among American intelligence agencies, although officials acknowledge that the picture is not entirely complete....

In interviews, civilian and military officials from a broad range of government agencies provided specific details to support what until now has been a more generally worded claim, in a new National Intelligence Estimate, that Iran is providing “lethal support” to Shiite militants in Iraq.

But I don't think many people even dispute Iran's role helping the anti-democracy forces in Iraq; I'm more interested in what we're going to do about it... so back to the Guardian!

The paper (which is very leftist, anti-American, anti-Iraq War, and even more stridently anti-war against Iran) claims that there is a split within the Bush administration, with the Pentagon and the State Department opposed to any attack on Iran, while the vice president and the "neo-conservatives" supporting just such an attack.

But this distinction seems particularly facile in light of their similar description of the recent strategic change of course in Iraq, which they portray thus:

One of the main driving forces behind war, apart from the vice-president's office, is the AEI [American Enterprise Institute], headquarters of the neo-conservatives. A member of the AEI coined the slogan "axis of evil" that originally lumped Iran in with Iraq and North Korea. Its influence on the White House appeared to be in decline last year amid endless bad news from Iraq, for which it had been a cheerleader. But in the face of opposition from Congress, the Pentagon and state department, Mr Bush opted last month for an AEI plan to send more troops to Iraq. Will he support calls from within the AEI for a strike on Iran?

As readers of Big Lizards (or any other decently competent center-right blog) already know, the new strategy is not simply "to send more troops to Iraq" but a complete change of course. And the Pentagon was not uniformly against the inaptly named "surge;" some top generals were against it, others were for it.

The actual plan was substantially based upon the new official Army counterinsurgency manual that written by then-Lt.Gen. David Petraeus while he served as commanding general of Fort Leavenworth -- which manual itself was based upon strategies and tactics that Petraeus developed fighting in Mosul, when he commanded the 101st Airborne Division in Iraq.

Petraeus, who takes over from Gen. George Casey as Commander of Multi-National Force - Iraq, and Adm. William Fallon, who takes command of Central Command from Gen. John Abizaid, represent one faction within the Pentagon; Casey and Abizaid represent another; and there are other factions as well (including, I suppose, a very small faction that just wants to declare defeat and go home). But to say "the Pentagon" opposed the strategic change of course is as simplistic as saying "Congress" did; in both bodies, some opposed while others supported the president's decision.

Thus, I don't take it very seriously when the same newspaper says that...

The state department and the Pentagon are opposed [to striking Iran], as are Democratic congressmen and the overwhelming majority of Republicans.

More properly, as with the Iraq changes, some but not all members of the State Department and some but not all Pentagon officials likely oppose an Iran strike. About the only thing we can state with certainty is that the Guardian itself is opposed:

But Vincent Cannistraro, a Washington-based intelligence analyst, shared the sources' assessment that Pentagon planning was well under way. "Planning is going on, in spite of public disavowals by Gates. Targets have been selected. For a bombing campaign against nuclear sites, it is quite advanced. The military assets to carry this out are being put in place."

He added: "We are planning for war. It is incredibly dangerous."

I would say precisely the opposite: what's "incredibly dangerous" is not to plan for a war, but simply to blunder into one... or be dragged, kicking and screaming, by the enemy, as in 1941. Rather than sit around with mouths agape, waiting for Iran to launch the full-scale war, we must plot it very carefully. And if we decide that war is ultimately inevitable, then we should start it ourselves -- at a time and place of our choosing, not Ahmadinejad's.

Where the Guardian article gets really peculiar is when the journalists try to psychoanalyze President Bush, presumably hoping to tap into the traditional leftist meme that Republican "warmongers" are mentally disturbed as well as stupid:

Mr Bush is part of the American generation that refuses to forgive Iran for the 1979-81 hostage crisis. He leaves office in January 2009 and has said repeatedly that he does not want a legacy in which Iran has achieved superpower status in the region and come close to acquiring a nuclear weapon capability. The logic of this is that if diplomatic efforts fail to persuade Iran to stop uranium enrichment then the only alternative left is to turn to the military.

In fact, President Bush is of the generation that recognizes that Iran declared war on us in 1979 -- and they have been fighting that war as strongly as they can for the last 28 years. They certainly struck a horrific blow against us in Beirut in 1983, when they killed 241 American Marines, 58 French paratroopers, a Lebanese custodian, and the wife and four children of a Lebanese janitor (the infamous Beirut barracks terrorist bombing).

Iran's current bloody-handed actions in Iraq are further proof that they consider themselves at war against us, even if we haven't yet accepted that we are at war against them:

  • Sending arms and explosives to the anti-democratic forces, both Shia and Sunni;
  • Giving advanced military training to Shiite terrorists, in order to attack Americans and Iraqi government forces;
  • Supporting Muqtada Sadr during the period he was actually fighting against American troops in Najaf and in Sadr City;
  • Sending actual members of Iran's Revolutionary Guards into Iraq (Qods Force) to launch direct attacks on American and coalition forces;
  • And green-lighting Hezbollah to attack our ally Israel, unprovoked, to draw them into a war in Lebanon.

Iran has been threatening us with horrific retaliation if we do attack; but realistically, there is little they can do. Their most effective response would be to use mines to try to close the Strait of Hormuz, through which a huge percentage of the world's oil passes; but that is precisely what the "Herman Option" is designed to prevent. And in fact, two British minesweeping ships have already been dispatched to the Gulf, along with American submarines.

(Via the Discovery Channel show FutureWeapons, we also have some very new and strikingly good anti-mine technology available to us now; see Krakatoa.)

The Guardian article concludes on what must, for them, be a very sober note:

If it does come to war, [Josh Muravchik, a Middle East specialist at the AEI] said Iran would retaliate, but that on balance it would be worth it to stop a country that he said had "Death to America" as its official slogan.

"We have to gird our loins and prepare to absorb the counter-shock," he said.

Unlike the guardians of the Left -- including the Guardian -- I don't believe that "counter-shock" is going to be anywhere near as bad as we have suffered in Iraq, for the simple reason that we will not invade Iran; that is, we will not send troops to occupy the country and force regime change, as we did in Iraq. That part would be up to the Iranian people themselves, who by all accounts detest the ruling mullahs and hate how they are trying to push modern Persia back into the 7th century.

The strike will be primarily an airstrike against the nuclear targets, and also (if we implement the full Herman Option) against Iran's gasoline refineries and docks, shutting off their supply of fuel. Since we will not have tens of thousands of soldiers in Iran as convenient targets, it will be next to impossible for Iran to retaliate other than by terrorism... and I'm absolutely certain that if they had the capability to strike us via Hezbollah (or some other proxy), they would already have done so: Iran is not exactly scrupulous about international norms of behavior.

But if we wait until Iran is much stronger, especially if they have functioning nuclear weapons, then the specter of retaliation becomes vastly larger. It would be a strategic blunder of colossal enormity to dither until such an attack as the Herman Option becomes impossible, because we're too afraid that a Hezbollah nuclear suicide-boat attack will, e.g., sink one of the two carriers we have in the Gulf, the USS Eisenhower or the USS Stennis, killing 6,000 American sailors and Marines -- and projecting a $5 billion force-projection platform to the bottom of the sea.

If we are ever going to strike, the time to do so is sooner rather than later. And I hope that we strike sooner than "just before Mr Bush leaves office," as the Guardian rather snidely predicts.

Just as it would be wildly irresponsible for Bush not to do something about Iran before he leaves office, it would be cowardly, I believe, to wait until just before leaving... thus saddling Bush's successor, Democrat or Republican, with the consequences of his decision, rather than accepting them himself.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, February 10, 2007, at the time of 7:44 PM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

January 26, 2007

Eat Or Be Eaten

Hezbollah Horrors , Iran Matters , Iraq Matters , War Against Radical Islamism
Hatched by Dafydd

Democrats have charged that President Bush changed his mind about how well the war was going in Iraq after -- and in response to -- the November election losses. But now it seems that one of the most important changes, the new rules of engagement (ROEs, or new "rule-sets," as Thomas P.M. Barnett would have it), was actually made before that dreadful event... raising the specter that the "decider" might actually have made the decision on its merits, not because of crass political calculation.

Thus it might have come from the military, as Bush said -- not from Karl Rove, as the Democrats say. Great Scott!

As long ago as last fall, the Bush administration authorized our forces to kill or capture any Iranian intelligence agents or members of the Revolutionary Guards sent into Iraq (Qods Force):

The move, approved last fall, is aimed at weakening Iran's influence in the region and forcing Tehran to abandon its nuclear program that the West believes is for nuclear weapons and not energy, the newspaper said, citing the unidentified officials.

For more than a year, U.S. forces have held dozens of Iranians for a few days, taking DNA samples from some as well as photographs and fingerprints from all those captured, the report said [DNA samples allow easy and exact identification of remains after missile strikes -- a delicious prospect].

Several Iranian officials have been detained in three U.S. raids over the last month. Outgoing U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Zalmay Khalilzad told reporters on Wednesday that details of accusations against them would be made public in the coming days.

This coincides with Bush's decision to send two carrier battle groups to the Persian Gulf, to pack a bunch of ABM missiles into friendly countries in the area (such as the United Arab Emirates), and to arm-twist the Brits into sending a pair of minesweeping ships there as well.

I like these moves. In the face of aggressive posturing by Iran and Syria, I have always believed we're far better off confronting and escalating -- reraising the bluffer -- than folding -- withdrawing, apologizing, or trying to come to some diplomatic accomodation ("how about if you only take half of Iraq, and we'll call it even?")

Hezbollah is currently threatening the elected Lebanese government; the proper response is for Prime Minister Fouad Siniora to escalate to the brink of civil war, knowing that if Hezbollah "calls," there is at least a 50-50 chance Hezbollah will be destroyed (especially if the Israelis return, this time under new management); but if Siniora sits back and lets Hezbollah set the pace, then the Lebanese government will assuredly be destroyed and Siniora himself killed, no matter what promises Bashar Assad makes.

Syria has also been representing that it's about to pour across the border again; the United States should call that bluff by overflying the Syrian-Lebanese border with warplanes, making it plain that we're not going to allow Syria to roll south, as they did in the late 1970s: Damascus is not immune, and Teheran cannot protect them from American air power.

We did not destroy the Soviet Union by pulling back when they threatened, or by passively letting them seize more territory; we destroyed them by constant confrontation, containment, and a relentless pro-freedom, pro-liberty propaganda campaign waged through the 1980s.

And that is exactly how we can first contain, then roll back global jihadism: confrontation, coupled with alleviating the conditions that spawn people eager to become martyrs for jihad -- "shrinking the Gap." (Barnett's main thesis.)

You win a war by aggression, not passivity.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, January 26, 2007, at the time of 2:21 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

December 14, 2006

Warty Justice

Hezbollah Horrors , Israel Matters , Terrorist Attacks
Hatched by Dafydd

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
conversation revealed
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
warty bliggens

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

ask rather
said warty bliggens
what the universe
has done to deserve me

-- from Warty Bliggens the Toad, by Don Marquis

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, December 14, 2006, at the time of 7:50 AM | Comments (10) | TrackBack

December 5, 2006


Cultures and Contortions , Future of Civilization , Hezbollah Horrors , Iran Matters , Iraq Matters , War Against Radical Islamism
Hatched by Dafydd

In the last two posts on Big Lizards, we discussed demography, democracy, and Americanism:

  • Reading Between the Steyns: Little Endians and Big Endians
    Regardless of the Realists and liberals at the Iraq Study Group -- and the forest-missing microwarriors and isolationists now populating the conservative movement -- defeating al-Qaeda is an important but very minor goal. The true war for survival of the West, the GWOT, will be vision battling vision for the soul of Mankind: and either Islam or Individualism will win.
  • Borg Culture: Steyn, Jihad, and the End of Predestinarianism:

    Americanism, by whatever name, is the only ideology ready to hand that we can export to counter the death-cult of militant jihadism and win the war for the soul of the world. We mustn't be afraid to shove raw, naked Americanism down the throats of the rest of the world... it's the physic for the pathogen of jihad.

All right, we know what to do and why we need to do it; but how do we do it? How can we "shove raw, naked Americanism down the throats of the rest of the world?"

Let's start with the fundamentals. I have always thought that the best way to teach any subject, from civics to calculus, is to take a historical approach: things happen for reasons; seeing the historical progression makes it a lot easier to understand what we do and why it works (or doesn't work).

Take affirmative action. You can't understand why it's a controversy, why we're even talking about it, without knowing about Jim Crow laws; and you can't understand those without first learning about Reconstruction; and for that, you need to know about the Civil War; and understanding the Civil War requires an examination of slavery; and that takes us all the way back to the Constitutional Convention and the great compromise.

What do foreigners learn about us by this? They learn that we really take seriously the concept of all people being equal under the law; that we have struggled to lift everyone up; that sometimes we go to far trying to help the underdog and need to get back to first principles. And in subtext, it shows how freedom of speech really works, that we're free to criticize the government, and how a real dialog can develop because of this freedom.

In other words, to show the truth about America -- hence Americanism -- we must teach American history to the rest of the world... most of which is woefully ignorant of the subject. (So are most Americans; but believe me, as little as our citizens know about our own history, people in Japan and Italy -- let alone in Iraq and Yemen -- know even less.)

But how can we teach American history to people who live in foreign countries? Must we invade and conquer their school systems, assuming they even have any? Fortunately, there is an easier way...

Television has become the universal language of the world. Even villages in remote locations often have access to a television (perhaps only one in the chief's hut); and certainly most people who live in cities, even in Islamic countries, have TVs. So the idea here would be for the United States to disseminate programming that teaches American history.

Often, the real history is very much at odds with what jihadist or totalitarian governments tell their people about the "Great Satan;" so why would any of these countries allow such broadcasts? The answer is that they wouldn't... so we do it without their consent -- and if they don't like it, too damn bad. Part of fighting a war of ideas is that we cannot be fastidious about the "sovereign right" of nations to malign us and suppress the truth about America's astonishing contribution to the world.

Shortly before Thanksgiving, a reader of the Anniston Star wrote this in a letter to the editor:

The next time you feel doubts about the direction of this country, remember this:

The only two defining forces that have ever been willing to die for you are: (1) Jesus Christ and (2) the American soldier! One died for your soul and the other for your freedom -- even to read this!

I don't know if this is original with James W. Anderson from Talladega, Alabama (Vietnam 1967-68), or if he heard or read it somewhere; but I'm happy to give him credit until another claimant comes along. It's an amazing insight, no matter who originated it... and one that virtually nobody outside the United States really understands. So no pussyfooting.

There are several nuts-and-bolts considerations for this project:

  • The shows themselves cannot be dry, academic productions; we can make a signal available, but we obviously cannot force people to watch it.

Now, there's no way that a documentary produced by the State Department could be anything but video death... so we need to hire real professional writers, directors, and producers instead. Better yet, a wealth of such shows has already been produced, from documentaries like the Day the Universe Changed and the Adams Chronicles to movies like Gettysburg and the Patriot. We could go a long way just broadcasting these excellent productions.

  • We cannot rely on people speaking English well enough to be able to follow such movies and television series; they must be translated and dubbed.

And by translated, I mean into every language necessary to spread Americanism throughout the world, from Polish to Croatian to Arabic to Pashtun to Farsi to Nubian, and so forth. This must be treated as a major national-security program -- with money and manpower to match. I'd like to see the XVOA (eXtreme Voice of America) funded as well as NASA is ($20 billion), or at least the National Science Foundation ($5½ billion).

In addition, we need to find native speakers of each of these languages, preferably with acting experience, for dubbing. For obscure languages that are hard to find here (not that many, with the number of immigrants we have from everywhere!) we may need to find native speakers and train them to act. As with Bullwinkle and Rocky, each actor may need to play multiple voices.

And we need to pay top dollar... so that aspiring actors are attracted to this project even with the competition.

  • We need to put people on the task of finding every possible way to disseminate these dubbed programs everywhere in the world.

Buying a channel (or several) on every satellite TV system is just the beginning; we also need to find a way around governments that go around smashing satellite receivers and jamming transmissions. If necessary (and I think it often is), we should take out jamming stations in enemy countries with cruise missiles. Let 'em scream... what are they going to do about it, declare war on us?

What we're talking about is not just Voice of America, but a super-sized, hyperthyroid, 24/7 American history and propaganda machine. Our biggest worry is the Democrats, who may decide this is the perfect venue to spread anti-Americanism faster than ever before; for this reason, I suggest keeping the XVOA in the hands of the Administration, which is much less likely than Congress to be overtly hostile to the country, even if a Democrat is elected.

Every aspect of American history illuminates one or more elements of Americanism, showing where we came from, what we've gone through, and who we really are. This would do far more for our image in the world (including the ummah) than sending billions to Bangladesh the next time they have a flood (that would be next rainy season) or to Thailand the next time they have a Tsunami (that would be next earthquake season): even when we do that, the local governments lie to the people and tell them all the rescue efforts and food and medical aid came from themselves, not from us.

It would do much more to spread Americanism than would tens of billions spent on foreign aid -- nearly all of which goes to dictators who, again, disburse it as if it came from their own pockets.

And it would be far more effective countering jihadism than the haphazard mix of "American" soft-core porn movies and TV jiggle shows -- from American Pie to Baywatch to Attack of the 60 Foot Centerfold -- that inundate the world, showing the worst aspects of America exaggerated beyond all reason by Hollywood's addiction to sensationalism. (At least, it would show them that we have a better side.)

Visual imagery is powerful, and movies already influence people everywhere. Why shouldn't America, which invented motion pictures and is the most relentless purveyor of them, be able to use them more effectively than jihadis to "sell" our ideology?

This is just the first cut; does any of you have other ideas for spreading the ideology of individualism, freedom, and capitalism?

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, December 5, 2006, at the time of 5:16 AM | Comments (9) | TrackBack

December 4, 2006

Borg Culture: Steyn, Jihad, and the End of Predestinarianism

Cultures and Contortions , Hezbollah Horrors , Iran Matters , Iraq Matters , War Against Radical Islamism
Hatched by Dafydd

A commenter on our previous post, Robert Schwartz, quoted a fellow who writes at the Asia Times online under the improbable name of "Spengler" (I cannot find out his full name):

The Islamic world now views the pontiff as an existential threat, and with reason. Jihad is not merely the whim of a despotic divinity, as the pope implied. It is much more: jihad is the fundamental sacrament of Islam, the Muslim cognate of the Lord's Supper in Christianity, that is, the unique form of sacrifice by which the individual believer communes with the Transcendent. To denounce jihad on theological grounds is a blow at the foundations of Islam, in effect a papal call for the conversion of the Muslims.

But is this really true? We all know Moslems who do not believe in or practice jihad as the terrorists believe in it and practice it. Besides my personal acquaintances, which it may not be fair to cite (since you don't know them), there are also well known people like the fellows at Iraq the Model, as well as those not well known but whose existence everyone knows about: Moslem American soldiers, CIA officers, policemen, firemen, doctors, lawyers, and shopkeepers -- who don't, as a rule, advocate or support jihad as the Taliban or the Iranian mullahs do.

So it is possible, even though jihadism is a very powerful ideology that has taken control of a large portion of the ummah. Isn't there some ideology that can infect Islam as thoroughly as has jihadism, a "counter-ideology" that is positive and life-affirming, not a death cult, and which does not require Moslems to convert to Christianity?

Yes, there is... and we all know it, even if we rarely think of it in those terms.

Transforming jihad

The most important point to bear in mind is that such questions as the actual meaning of jihad are answered by cultural, not religious force: I don't believe that the jihadis in Iraq or Gaza believe in militant jihad because they've been religously persuaded by theological argument -- but because all their neighbors believe it.

The way to change that belief is to create swaths of territory (real estate) in which the cultural belief is that jihad is an individual inner struggle against sin, rather than an external war against sinners; a struggle that each individual must freely choose, or it's meaningless; and most important, one that can have immediate material benefits to each individual person, rather than nothing but the promise of eventual "paradise" in the afterlife.

We must create a large territory within the ummah where everyone is surrounded by others who believe the same thing... thus, by the natural human desire to avoid cognitive dissonance, the psychological pressure will be towards sanity.

Ideology and counter-ideology

But how do you get those core swaths in the first place? You must beat down militant jihadism with that counter-ideology I mentioned above; and that requires a very powerful, adaptable, and cohesive counter-ideology; we must directly counter jihadism with an equally strong (or superior) ideology which does as good a job of promoting a sense of community and pulling together as jihadism does.

This is difficult to find but not impossible. In fact, we already have just such a counter-ideology:

  • Individualism, as contrary as it may sound, is part of that ideology, as we've seen in our own country. By vigorously supporting the rights of the individual -- which Europe, Japan, and Canada don't support -- America has become the most cohesive and communal country in Christendom. This despite frequent denunciations of individualism by, e.g., the pope and other European religious leaders of Christianity.
  • Freedom is another component of that counter-ideology; and again, we find more of that in the United States than in any other country.
  • Finally, capitalism, which is the greatest engine of wealth creation ever invented, is absolutely critical... because the hope of wealth by individual effort -- capitalism -- as opposed to wealth by tribal or political affiliation (socialism), is vital in any war that hopes to defeat "holy warriors," who primarily appeal to the poor by saying, in effect, "join our tribe and we will support you."

Individualism plus freedom plus capitalism... we already have a catchy name for that ideology, which has served as a counter-ideology for 230 years against jihadism, against Communism, against Fascism and Naziism, against imperialism, and again monarchism: we call it Americanism.

Ideological synthesis: Americanism

Note that Americanism is neither religious nor secular but can exist in both kinds of subculture: evangelical Christians here still believe in Americanism, as do people like myself who are not religious at all, and in fact come from a non-Christian cultural background as well. And so do American Moslems; Americanism does not require giving up Islam in favor of Christianity (pace, Ann Coulter!)

The rest of the "West" -- Europe, Canada, Japan, and Israel -- have no unique ideology that binds them together as a people the way the combination of freedom, individual rights, and capitalism do here; the French have nothing to counter jihadism when it comes a-courtin'.

So our first great task is to convert our allies to Americanism (which will probably require a different name!); that alone would likely give them enough hope for the future that they start breeding again, which is an excellent start for our cultural defense. But it has a more immediate effect: Americanism is confident enough to believe that it can convert those who immigrate here, what we call "assimilation." But assimilation is a two-way function: American culture is Borg culture. We add bits and pieces of new cultures to American culture, and in return, we Americanize new immigrants.

What else can we say about the power of Americanism?

  • America is far richer with a more robust economy than any other Western country;
  • We as a culture (despite tolerating individuals who don't fit that profile) retain a vigorous warrior spirit that leads us to savagely defend what we see to be ours;
  • We remain intensely curious and pursue science and techological improvement more than any other nation on the planet;
  • We think of ourselves as Americans first, everything else second... even liberals who are in fact internationalists still must do ritual obeisance to calling themselves Americans ("hypocrisy is the tribute vice pays to virtue");
  • We are the most religiously free country on the planet -- the First Amendment guarantees it -- as well as the most religous free country on the planet (that is, we have more churchgoers than any other country that does not compel religious observance);
  • And we at least breed at the replacement level -- though not evenly: even there, it's precisely those areas that most exemplify Americanism (individualism + freedom + capitalism), the so-called "red" states and "red" communities, that breed at significantly more than replacement rate; and it's the "blue" areas that are the least Americanist and the most Europeanist that don't really hold up their end.

These are all unmistakable signs of a vibrant, confident, and growing cultural identity -- which can only be explained by the planetary success of the ideology we're calling Americanism. There is no other explanation: we have the same language as countries that are not so successful (Great Britain, Canada, Grenada); we have the same religions as other failed countries (Spain, Italy, the Netherlands, Scandanavia); and we have a hodge-podge of many races living here, along with polyglot millions for whom English is a second language.

We have the same democratic government -- though with a uniquely American flavor, a constitutional republic as opposed to a parliamentary democracy -- as the entire rest of the West; but even there, the ideology came first and propelled our Founding Fathers to create the first democracy in an era of kings as a representative, constitutional republic. Those democracies that followed (leave England out for a moment) tended to organize themselves along the lines of the French Revolution... which has turned out to be far less successful a model than ours.

(England's Parliament goes all the way back to the nobles who wrested some control from the king in Magna Carta, the "great charter;" it is, like the American system, sui generis. However, it's still too close to the continental model and has proven less able to maintain its distinct cultural identity than Americanism. Propinquity may play a role here: we were protected from the European cultural decline by a great ocean.)

The distinctions between America and the world are nontrivial and nonrandom:

  • We are the most capitalistic nation on the planet, and we're the richest;
  • We are the freest country, and we're the country with the most immigration;
  • We have the most religious freedom of any country, yet we have the most freely embraced religion;
  • We are the most individualist country -- and the country with the greatest percent of citizens ready and willing to defend it.

That last point is not a contradiction, though most throughout the world would think so: individualism leads to a greater sense of community than does collectivism... it's not a contradiction, but it is a paradox. For example, the more individualist a community, the more charitable are the individuals in it... because they see charity as the duty of individuals, not the State.

This extends upward: even when government action is required, real Americans prefer that action be conducted at the lowest possible level of government, where we have the most control: city instead of county, county instead of state, state instead of national... and always national over international. Americanism is the ideology of self-control, self-governance, and self-sufficiency. It is ultimately empowering, while jihadism is ultimately infantalizing.

American culture as Borg culture: resistance is futile

Many anti-immigrant politicians (such as Rep. Tom Tancredo, R-CO, 100%) and pseudo-politicians (like Pat Buchanan) push the false meme that Mexican and other Hispanic immigrants "don't assimilate." This is complete nonsense. There is always a loud and angry fringe element that marches in the streets waving Mexican flags... but look at the numbers: in the biggest rally against the House bill that made illegal immigration illegal (I'm being unfair here just for a giggle), they got a few hundred thousand people -- most of whom were not waving Mexican flags.

This in a county that has literally millions of Hispanics, most either directly or ancestrally from Mexico. The population of Los Angeles County is about 10 million; there are 4.65 million Hispanics and only 3 million non-Hispanic whites. So for the first rally, which the Aztlan separatists successfully portrayed as just anti-bill, not anti-American, they still only got 10% of the Hispanic population (at most) to show up and march.

Subsequent marches, after the anti-Americanism of the march leaders was made clear, drew far fewer participants, closer to 1%. And even there, we're just talking about marching; how many Hispanic separatist terrorists are there? Answer: zero.

Our immigrants assimilate, and they partially assimilate (change) the culture; that confidence in our own ideology is one of the things that makes us strong: in Osama's terms, we act like the strong horse, we have confidence that we're the strong horse, therefore we are the strong horse... even with the Democratic Party weighing us down.

There are always exceptions, and of course, some immigrants never Americanize. But unlike in Europe, even if the immigrants themselves resist -- resistance is ultimately futile, because their children belong to us. In France, the children of Algerian Moslem immigrants are much more anti-France and jihadist than their parents (it's the kids leading the French intifada, not the parents); but in America, it works just the opposite: each succeeding generation is more American and less inclined towards the "old country" than the previous.

Expand that outward: there is nothing magical about our mountains, our rivers, or our plains that is any different that the geographical features of other countries; the thing that converts Irish and Italians, Canadians and Cambodians, Nicaraguans and Nigereans is the ideology of Americanism... and the ideology can be exported.

The exception proves the pudding: Americanism, by whatever name, is the only ideology ready to hand that we can export to counter the death-cult of militant jihadism and win the war for the soul of the world. We mustn't be afraid to shove raw, naked Americanism down the throats of the rest of the world... it's the physic for the pathogen of jihad.

The way forward

This is the way forward, to borrow a phrase that will probably permeate the Baker-Hamilton report (and already trips from the lips of National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley almost every time he goes on a Sunday yak show): export the "stronger horse," Americanism, to the rest of the world -- starting with our new allies in Eastern Europe and moving to our old allies in Western Europe, thence beyond the pale to Africa, Araby, and the Orient. Americanism comes ready to adapt to any other culture, any other country: you can have a capitalist, free, and individualist Frenchism, Germanism, Britishism, and even Iraqism, if we but try.

We have right now one of the most Americanist presidents of recent years; George W. Bush isn't as good a communicator as Ronald Reagan, but he's every bit as Americanist. By contrast, BIll Clinton and George H.W. Bush, as well as Gerald Ford, Richard Nixon, and of course Jimmy Carter, were more Europeanist: they all looked to Europe for a lead; they truly believed international organizations (the U.N. or even NATO) were the wave of the future; and I can't imagine any of them believing that "America is the greatest nation on God's green Earth," to rip a phrase from Michael Medved.

But I'm utterly certain that both Reagan and Bush-43 believe (and believed) exactly that, deep in their souls. That, ultimately, is why I do not fear that Bush will use the ISG report as a fig leaf to cover retreat from Iraq, or even from the mission to democratize that country: for George W. Bush, renouncing that policy would be the same as renouncing his religious faith and becoming an atheist.

And that he will not do... no matter how much "pressure" the Democrats bring to bear.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, December 4, 2006, at the time of 5:54 PM | Comments (8) | TrackBack

Reading Between the Steyns: Little Endians and Big Endians

Cultures and Contortions , Hezbollah Horrors , Iran Matters , Iraq Matters , War Against Radical Islamism
Hatched by Dafydd

The Discordians were (are?) a crazy bunch of weirdos who had some truly great ideas. Led by Malaclypse the Younger (usually Gregory Hill) and Lord Omar Khayyam Ravenhurst (typically Kerry Thornley), and later joined by science-fiction author Robert Anton Wilson (usually writing as Mordecai Malignatus), they invented a whole new religion disguised as an elaborate joke disguised as a religion.

They also invented the Law of Fives, the Sacred Chao (a "chao" -- pronounced cow -- is a single unit of chaos) with its associated Hodge and Podge, and the myth of Eris and the golden apple. (Well, they didn't actually invent the last; the ancient Greeks did. But the Discordians pontificated about it a lot.)

They also invented a great game called Po that I've used endlessly to my amusement and enlightenment (and to my neighbors' annoyance and reporting to the authorities). The idea is that you take two contradictory concepts, say "fire" and "water." Then you write them in a line with the word "po" in between.

Po stands for some relationship: this begins the game, which is to find what relationship the po stands for and what is the result of the equation. In this case, we have "fire po water," and the most obvious answer is that po =
"heats," and the solution is "steam." You could say this game of po gave us the industrial age, when humans realized that by superheating water, they could produce steam that would drive steam engines.

(The Discordians would point out that po could also equal "puts out," and the result of "fire po water" would be a soggy campfire. Some solutions are more useful than others.)

Well, the past is prologue. (And what follows is epilogue, since there is no actual content to this post, at least nothing worth reading.) I have been metaphorically devouring Mark Steyn's book America Alone: the End of the World as We Know It; and I have also just read the New York Times' breathless speculation about what will be in the Baker-Hamilton report from the Iraq Study Group and how the president will respond to it.

Steyn, the demography predestinarian, believes that the plummeting birthrate of the West (minus the United States) will inevitably (or at least barring a miracle) lead to the countries of continental Europe being denuded of Europeans, who will be replaced by Moslems, bringing Europe fully into the ummah.

The Times is jazzed about its own prediction -- based upon leaks to them from "commission members" and "officials familiar with" the report (excuse our presumption in assuming that those commission members willing to leak to the New York Times are probably in Lee Hamilton's group of Democrats, rather than James Baker's cabal of "Realist" Republicans).

These leaks to the Times indicate the ISG will recommend we abandon the idea of democratizing the Middle East and withdraw to the "Realist" position (now apparently shared by some of the lads at Power Line) of sitting in our Iraq-based Fortress of Solitude, striking at al-Qaeda when they mass together, and otherwise allowing Iraq to turn into a Shiite dictatorship... but an America-friendly dictatorship (hah). I don't know that the ISG will suggest this course, but they may well.

I know this post is jumping around like a liberal ducking facts, but I'm actually going somewhere with this. Using the game of Po, the secret to my widespread failure, I get this: "Steyn po ISG." The po in this case is "eats," and the result anent Iraq is this very interesting formulation:

In the long run of the war on jihadism, planting a stable democracy in Iraq is far more important than defeating al-Qaeda.

Take a moment and think about that: it's the exact opposite of the Power Line position, which has become the mainstream position: that our only legitimate interest in Iraq is stomping al-Qaeda in Iraq; promoting stable democracy -- or even stopping the gangland war between militias and death squads -- is an irrelevant conceit that we must abandon, in our Realist way, for the good, old-fashioned, .time-honored, and extraordinarily successful tactic of allying with certain dictators against other dictators.

I think I can prove it. Suppose we succeed in destroying the organization formerly led by Musab Zarqawi and now by Hamza Muhajir, but we allow the bloody massacres to continue until the Sunni of Iraq flee into Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and Kuwait. This would leave nothing but Kurdistan in the north -- and in central and south Iraq, a Shia-dominated Iraqi government under the thumb of Muqtada Sadr, hence under the grandthumb of Hezbollah and the great-grandthumb of Iran. Haven't we just jumped out of the pot and into the kettle?

In the short view, if southern Iraq simply becomes part of Greater Iran, we have just helped our greatest non-Communist enemy to become vastly stronger.

But in the long view, it's even worse. If Steyn is right that Europe is committing societal suicide, and white Christian Europeans are abdicating sovereignty over the continent to the influx of Moslems... then how can we stop it? There are only two ways:

  • We could possibly find some inducement for Europeans to have more babies. This is true terra incognita: the problem is not physical impotence but the loss of belief in the future, which leads (Steyn argues persuasively) to a turning inward towards the present, towards pure narcissism: live for today, and damn tomorrow!
  • Alternatively, we could go the American route (which seems to be working here): rather than stop the substitution of Moslems for Christians in Europe, we could try to create a new Moslem ideology to compete with Islamism and jihad. So far as I can think, the only ideology that could prove strong enough is freedom, individualism, and true capitalism.

This way, as Moslems sweep into control in Europe, they will have effectively been Westernized: this is Islam shorn of its totalitarianism, its tribalism, and its worship of death over life.

What difference does it make to drive al-Qaeda out of Iraq if they just regenerate in Sudan, Pakistan/Kashmir, or Saudi Arabia? For that matter, so what even if we wipe al-Qaeda out of existence entirely -- if that just cleans the docks for Iranian-Hezbollah jihadis instead? As Caiaphas sings in Jesus Christ, Superstar, "we need a more permanent solution to our problem."

Al-Qaeda is a symptom; the symptom is itself dangerous and must be treated... but we'll never be safe, in the Middle East, Europe, or here in America, unless we likewise cure the disease itself. And the disease is a death-cult ideology that is sweeping the fastest-growing and most aggressive culture on the planet.

We need to introduce anti-jihadism leukocytes into Islam's circulatory system. I have actually been arguing this point since long before Big Lizards began, during a long-running discussion, "Are We There Yet?," in the Heinlein Journal in the 1990s; and I continued this discussion in the first week of this blog in my post Where Are All the Moslem Methodists?

Simply put, we need to break the link between Islam and jihad. Just as Christendom finally broke the link between Christianity, crusades, and combustion of heretics, the ummah must do the same -- or World War IV will dwarf its three predecessors, each of which has been more horrific than the last.

We would probably win; but what world would we inherit as our prize? Would enough people survive to maintain civilization? Alternatively, the Moslems could "win" -- but the cost would be even greater, as it's only the science, medicine, technology, and creativity of the Western world that keeps Islam afloat. There are 1.2 billion Moslems today; but during Islam's "Golden Age" (A.D. 700-1400 -- and yes, the irony of the dating is delicious), the entire human population of the earth never exceeded 300 million, which is about all that a pre-technological planet can sustain.

Thus, even if the jihadis succeeded in converting everyone to a Taliban-style Islam, the cost would be the destruction of 75% of all Moslems on Earth. The ummah would consist of scattered, disconnected villages dotting the otherwise unpeopled wilderness. Oh, joy.

Regardless of the Realists and liberals at the Iraq Study Group -- and the forest-missing microwarriors and isolationists now populating the conservative movement -- defeating al-Qaeda is an important but very minor goal. The true war for survival of the West, the GWOT, will be vision battling vision for the soul of Mankind: and either Islam or Individualism will win.

We need to turn our attention to that war; and for that reason, Mark Steyn (whether he realizes it or not) makes a wonderful case for the expansive goal of President Bush to plant a functioning democracy in the heart of the Arab-Moslem-jihadi Middle East.

Nothing less will save our children's children's children.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, December 4, 2006, at the time of 4:30 AM | Comments (12) | TrackBack

September 14, 2006

Former Top General Demands Resignation...

Hezbollah Horrors , Israel Matters
Hatched by Dafydd

...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.

So there.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, September 14, 2006, at the time of 4:17 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

September 4, 2006

Debunking the Rebunking of the Debunking

Hezbollah Horrors , Israel Matters , Media Madness
Hatched by Dafydd

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...

Bunkum --

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.

DeBunkum --

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:

  1. 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.

    Ambulance 782 Roof Hole

    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]

  2. 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.

  3. The damage on display in the photographs of both ambulances is completely inconsistent with a missile attack.
  4. There is no sign of a fire inside either ambulance.
  5. 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.

In other words, Zombietime (relying upon posts by Reihl World View and Infinitives Unsplit) completely demolished the claim that Israeli missiles struck either ambulance on July 23rd in Qana.

ReBunkum --

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 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 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.

Re-DeBunkum --

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.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, September 4, 2006, at the time of 5:25 PM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

September 3, 2006

Paul Mirengoff Clarifies and Extends His Remarks

Blogomania , Hezbollah Horrors , Israel Matters
Hatched by Dafydd

Paul over at Power Line has very kindly responded to our earlier post, which accused him of a minor lapse of logic, by clarifying what he actually meant:

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.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, September 3, 2006, at the time of 3:45 AM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

September 2, 2006

The Slow Motion Collapse Has Begun

Hezbollah Horrors , Israel Matters , Predictions
Hatched by Dafydd

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:

Kadima coalition
Political Party Seats in Knesset
Kadima 29
Labor 19
Shas 12
Pensioners 7
Total seats 67
(61 is a majority)

But the other parties that got seats in the Knesset, and who theoretically could replace Labor, are:

Alternative partners to Labor
Political Party Seats in Knesset
Likud 12
Yisrael Beytenu 11
National Union
National Religious Party
United Torah Judaism 6
Meretz-Yachad 5
United Arab List 4
Hadash 3
Balad 3
Total seats 53
(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.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, September 2, 2006, at the time of 4:39 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

September 1, 2006

Rare Logical Lapse From My Favorite Blog

Hezbollah Horrors , Israel Matters , Logical Lacunae
Hatched by Dafydd

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.

Now, belatedly, along come some others who now, upon sober reflection, proclaim agreement with the Lizard: notably Charles "the Sauerkraut" Krauthammer and Col. Austin Bay.

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!)

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, September 1, 2006, at the time of 3:22 PM | Comments (8) | TrackBack

August 22, 2006

The "Curious Omission" Gets Curiouser and Curiouser

Hezbollah Horrors , Iran Matters , Israel Matters , Media Madness , Syrian Slitherings
Hatched by Dafydd

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.

Exhibit B:

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."

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, August 22, 2006, at the time of 3:17 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

August 19, 2006

Israeli Commando Raid: the Case of the Curious Omission

Hezbollah Horrors , Israel Matters , Media Madness
Hatched by Dafydd

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:

  1. 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;
  2. 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.”

Associated Press:

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.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, August 19, 2006, at the time of 3:03 PM | Comments (9) | TrackBack

August 18, 2006

Threat, or Menace, Part Deux

Atrocious Analogies , Blogomania , Hezbollah Horrors , Israel Matters
Hatched by Dafydd

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.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, August 18, 2006, at the time of 3:06 PM | Comments (9) | TrackBack

August 17, 2006

U.N. Ceasefire Agreement - Threat, or Menace?

Atrocious Analogies , Blogomania , Hezbollah Horrors , Israel Matters
Hatched by Dafydd

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:

Scott Johnson:

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.

Scott Johnson:

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!

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, August 17, 2006, at the time of 4:08 PM | Comments (20) | TrackBack

August 15, 2006

Tally Ho

Hezbollah Horrors , Iran Matters , Israel Matters , Syrian Slitherings
Hatched by Dafydd

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.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, August 15, 2006, at the time of 3:23 PM | Comments (10) | TrackBack

August 14, 2006

Hezbollah Attacks; "Ceasefire" Crumbling

Hezbollah Horrors , Israel Matters , Predictions
Hatched by Dafydd

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!

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, August 14, 2006, at the time of 11:34 PM | Comments (8) | TrackBack

Jed Babbin Has Become Nancy Pelosi

Hezbollah Horrors , Israel Matters , Media Madness
Hatched by Dafydd

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.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, August 14, 2006, at the time of 4:27 PM | Comments (13) | TrackBack

Paul & Carol & Ed & Alice

Hezbollah Horrors , Israel Matters
Hatched by Dafydd

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

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

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

And In This Corner...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Backward Glance

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

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

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

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

To Have and to Hold

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ceders of Lebanon

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Vox Populi

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

You go to war with the Army you have.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So it's a UN occupation or nothing.

Foreign Legions

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Know When to Hold, Know When to Fold

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, August 14, 2006, at the time of 4:34 AM | Comments (29) | TrackBack

August 11, 2006

Hey, Mulligan Man!

Hezbollah Horrors , Israel Matters , Predictions
Hatched by Dafydd

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.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, August 11, 2006, at the time of 9:07 PM | Comments (13) | TrackBack

August 10, 2006

The Grey Lady Vs. the Stately Lady

Hezbollah Horrors , Israel Matters , Media Madness
Hatched by Dafydd

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?

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, August 10, 2006, at the time of 11:45 AM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

August 9, 2006

The Simple Art of Propaganda

Hezbollah Horrors , Israel Matters , Media Madness
Hatched by Dafydd

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?

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

Objection Overruled

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

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

Class dismissed.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, August 9, 2006, at the time of 4:12 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

August 8, 2006

Newsflash: Israel Commits Near War Crime, Almost, Except They Didn't. Quite.

Hezbollah Horrors , Iran Matters , Israel Matters , Syrian Slitherings
Hatched by Dafydd

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?

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, August 8, 2006, at the time of 1:34 PM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

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