Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Will the next Hezbollah attack be something like this?

Annan's comments about the Israeli blockade today may be interpreted by Hezbollah as an open invitation to resume attacking Israeli shipping. Such a comment could re-start the Israel-Hezbollah War again:

Hezbollah is clearly worried about just what the peacekeeping forces will do once they are deployed in Lebanon. However, Hezbollah has rid Lebanon of peacekeeping troops before. Hezbollah may choose to strike "at Israeli ships" just as ships of the peacekeeping force are approaching Lebanon's shores. Some missiles will hit the peacekeeper's ships and Hezbollah will somehow blame Israel as being responsible, especially if the attack against the Israeli ships is unsuccessful again. Peacekeepers take Hezbollah's thinly-veiled warning to heart, abandon their mission, and go home.

I bring up this subject only to suggest that peacekeeping troops take the proper precautions as they deploy their troops in Lebanon. Not everybody wants you to be there.

Monday, August 28, 2006

The Crusaders Return

The comedy of France trying to squeeze out of its peacekeeping commitment to Lebanon is amusing but unsuprising. As Jed Babbin, former deputy undersecretary of defense said:
"Going to war without France is like going deer hunting without an accordion. You just leave a lot of useless noisy baggage behind."

France has realized, too late, that they have been outmaneuvered by American diplomacy. True, UNSC 1701 doesn't invoke Chapter 7 in demanding that the ceasefire and arms-smuggling ban be enforced. However, UNSC 1559 does invoke Chapter 7 when it comes to disarming Hezbollah.

So French-led peacekeeping troops may indeed have to use force to disarm Hezbollah or face additional embarassments. They cannot stick to their usual routine of siding with whatever armed party threatens French forces most and bleating that they are doing their job. Thus do the Crusaders - universally referred to by medieval Arab authors as "Franks" - unwillingly return to duty at their old stomping grounds.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Letter to Maya

As Hezbollah takes advantage of the current cease-fire to thumb its nose at the Lebanese government and reinforce its troops in south Lebanon under the cover of returning refugees, some Lebanese are venting their emotions:
Your stupid comment makes me support HA even more.

Maya, it's interesting to see how your view has evolved:

"Blame ourselves":

What gets to me is that both the Israelis and hezbollah are delighted at this opportunity to fire at each other, with no consideration for the impact it can have on civilian life, civilian infrastructure, the political stability of the country, and the country's economy...At the end of the day, all of this is our fault. We had the opportunity to unite, following the March 14th movement, but we ruined our chances and bitterly divided - thus creating a gap between Hezbollah and the rest of the government.

To "It's also Israel's fault":

It's easy for Israel to point the finger to the Lebanese government and blame them for not disarming Hezbollah. But, then again, Israel never managed to disarm Hezbollah eiter, and they are supposedly one of the strongest armies in the world! In 2000, they fled the South and never finished with Hezbollah.

To this:

I have never heard, seen, or otherwise suspect that Hezbollah hides arms among civilians.


Bombing for peace is like raping for love.


...Israel's actions in the past month has only convinved me that there is no way to make peace with Isarael. Not now.

Clearly Nasrallah understands his people quite well: over time, Lebanese will rearrange their emotions to hide their own failures and put the blame exclusively on others.

Maya, do you still respect yourself for feeling the way you do? Do you think G-d will forgive you for this?

Friday, August 11, 2006

Invincible Hezbollah?

The Thinking Lebanese says so:
...to claim a victory without occupying Lebanon, Israel needs to destroy all twelve thousand of Hezbollah's missiles, and to ensure that it withdraws at its own time and pace. To claim victory, Hezbollah has to thwart these plans and retain the ability to fire no more than two or three rockets into northern Israel and at the withdrawing Israeli troops on the last day of fighting, thereby showing it still has the ability to and that Israel's military campaign had failed.

Yet the director of The Jerusalem Summit, argues that Hezbollah need only be routed, for -
Our victory lies in accomplishing Israel's mission: being the light unto nations. Our victory would mean transforming their conscious and their social structures, liberating Islam from the demons of bestiality that have taken possession of their spiritual realm.

Israel must achieve security by liberating Arabs, not destroying them, and it is Israel, not Americans, who are best able to achieve this:
Israel must develop a clear theo-political strategy and work hard to implement it. It is Israel – not American neo-cons – who should spearhead the offensive on the distorted Islam. Israel must be the spiritual leader in this great war, because it is Isaac who knows the soul of Ishmael as a soul of one's brother.

So as far as Israel is concerned, victory may be achieved even if Hezbollah fires the occasional rocket capability once Israel stops shooting. Yet in the Middle East outside of Israel it is perception, not reality, that matters. It will be for the Lebanese themselves to decide who "won" this conflict and act accordingly: whether to keep supporting Hezbollah after the Israel stops shooting, or to dismantle its military structure.

Given their past record, I have trouble believing that Lebanese politicians will actually follow the path of peace, but I do think it is possible. Lebanon can now justify foreign military assistance to disarm Hezbollah, arguing that this will rob Israel of a pretext for military operations against Lebanon.

On a more depressing note, Mehdi Khalaji of The Washington Institute for Near East Policy argues that
Even if one day Hizballah is disarmed, either as a result of a voluntary agreement or successful Israeli efforts to devastate its arsenal, its social and political capital, so closely tied to Iranian power, will enable it to remain a real political threat in the region. That popularity may enable Hizballah to transform itself into the largest and most influential political force in Lebanon, a party that can use any potential free and fair election to become an important force in the government. Therefore, disarming Hizballah should not be considered a sufficient step...A total severing of ties between Hizballah and Iran is probably the only way to eliminate Hizballah’s threat to the region and prevent Iran from using the group as an effective tool for its anti-Western ideological agenda.

Sometimes there are no good solutions, only less-bad ones. If Hezbollah remains an active and existential security threat to Israel, there is one more alternative to the total destruction of Lebanon:
It is only because Israel's previous wars have been won relatively quickly that Israel felt secure within its small bounds. If Israel cannot achieve its security goals by destroying 80%+ of Hezbollah and departing, then the obvious alternative is for Israel to stay permanently, annex Lebanese territory for settlements, and toss out the local population. The Israelis have no desire to do it, yet it may have to happen!

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Ancient Israeli-Arab Alliance

Israelis and Arabs weren't always fighting each other, but you have to go back 2,859 years to find their common cause.

Apparently, this was the first appearance of Arab tribes in the history books - and Jews and Arabs were allies. Can it happen again?

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Nasrallah in English

As soon as the halt to the air strikes ended and the Israelis started attacking our cities and villages and infrastructure and civilians, the resistance launched more than 300 rockets on settlements in one day, having in mind that what they had gotten used to was between 100 and 150, or 179, or 190, whatever number we wanted or asked for from our brothers; but this number today was deliberate, and the resistance also hit Afula and Beit She’an, and the resistance can – and I assure you of this, based on yesterday’s and today’s performance – launch as many rockets as it wants -
[Unfortunately, I have lost the link to the blogger who sweated over this ten-page translation.]

It seems amazing that Nasrallah has the gift of making even war stories dull and tedious. Maybe he sounds better in Arabic?

Monday, August 07, 2006

Bernard Henri-Levi's Verdict

"As seen from Haifa, this is what is at stake in the operation in southern Lebanon. Israel did not go to war because its borders had been violated. It did not send its planes over southern Lebanon for the pleasure of punishing a country that permitted Hezbollah to construct its state-within-a-state. It reacted with such vigor because the Iranian President Ahmadinejad’s call for Israel to be wiped off the map and his drive for a nuclear weapon came simultaneously with the provocations of Hamas and Hezbollah. The conjunction, for the first time, of a clearly annihilating will with the weapons to go with it created a new situation. We should listen to the Israelis when they tell us they had no other choice anymore.

"I find myself thinking that if this war has to last...as distressed as we may be by the suffering of the Lebanese civilian population, the terrible deaths of hundreds, you cannot conclude that the Israelis have the strategic intention or the will to harm civilians."

We Already Discussed It!

I'd like to call everyone's attention to MJT's pre-kidnapping post from May 31st, 2006, Leave Beirut Out of It, which seems to have triggered the definitive Get-rid-of-Hezbollah discussion.

Snippets include:

MJT: "Hezbollah's capital is Tehran. Its sidekick capital is Damascus...

"Israel needs to bomb Hezbollah villages."

Perpetual Refugee: "The source for all those rockets is Syria.
The source for all their money ($100 million/year) is Iran.
The source for their ideology is Iran & Syria.

"Hit the source. And the dynamics will change."

maor: "Probably it is more "legal" for Israel to retaliate against Lebanon rather than Syria.
International law is bad at grasping situations such as that in Lebanon."

Carol Herman: "...while I don't think Israel will bomb residential areas, what is sad is that the Lebannese wouldn't even know what to do with the gift of watching the Israelis wound the "martyrs." These goons are just bums."

Omega80: "if the Army were used against Hezbollah, all hell would break loose because of the fact that in Lebanon for the most part, Hezbollah is concentrated in Shia areas. Thus, it would be the Army against the Shias basically which would be a disaster. However, by the same token, eventually the patience of other Lebanese groups and communities will wear out in regards to Hezbollah not disarming, and may see that their only way of self defense against a stronger Hezbollah is to arm themselves in return, which is something that Hezbollah can't stop.

"Therefore, the hope is that because Hezbollah realizes this, they WILL eventually disarm, because once all the other groups are armed again, they will become nothing more than a militia among many."

I wonder what Omega80 is up to nowadays?