You say that like it’s a bad thing

Says Scott: Why should outsiders participate in saving face for Israel and in solidifying what will no doubt be perceived in the Middle East as a Hezbollah victory?

Well, if a situation emerges where Israel can save face and Hezbollah is simultaneously able to claim victory, we’d be fools not to seize this opportunity. Put it another way, if both parties can convince at least themselves that they are coming away from the battlefield with their interests advanced, they are likely to stick to the agreement.

Think about it – if the Israelis, as seems possible, settle for a token retreat and an international force whilst giving up the Shebaa farms, thus terminating Hezbollah’s claim to legitimacy, and Hezbollah can meanwhile be satisfied with the feeling that they have beaten off an Israeli onslaught, the northern dimension of the Israel/Palestine conflict is not far at all from solution. There is nothing left to argue about, except disarmament (or something akin to it).

It’s unfortunate that both sides will probably claim they won it by force of arms, but it can’t be helped. In fact, Hezbollah’s extension of its self-declared insecurity zone with bigger rockets and successful delaying action on the frontier probably had more to do with it than the Israeli freakout blitz.

The only problem is the fish, of course. Time for a ceasefire, before the maniacs talking about “doing this for the whole Sunni world” get a hearing in Israel.

80 thoughts on “You say that like it’s a bad thing

  1. But who pays for the repairs? Must be cheaper to pay for the repairs in Lebanon than send an international “peacekeeping” force. I think I just answered my own question

  2. Europe sending a kajillion and the GCC sending the troops is better for Lebanon

  3. That, at least, seems solved. The Saudis and other GCC states are sending a kajillion or two.

    Do they? That would be a first. Although I hope it really happens.

    I just seem to recall the tsunami in South East Asia and the countries (USA and Europe) being the biggest donors in Palestine.
    In both cases the Arab states were/are pretty tight fisted.

  4. There is nothing left to argue about, except disarmament (or something akin to it).

    That is sooo nicely formulated! 🙂

    So everything depends on how Hezbollah might react after Israel leaves the Shebaa farms and a prisoner swap. Will they say that everything´s okay now, disarm and be only a political party from then on?

    Or will they look for another reason, anything, to avoid being disarmed? Like, there are still some persons missing, they must be prisoners in Israel. Knowing that Lebanon itself probably will never have the resources to force them.

    Personally I´d bet against them disarming.
    If only because having the strongest militia in Lebanon gives them additional political power. And sooner or later they´ll have to justify the existance of that army. Probably by launching a few missiles at Israel from outside that tiny proposed buffer zone.

    Look, either everything´s well. “There is nothing left to argue about, except disarmament (or something akin to it).”
    In that case I don´t see a need for a strong European force deployed to that buffer zone. Especially a tiny one just a few kilometers wide. The current unarmed UN force there could do that.

    Or, everything´s not well. This is at best a temporary truce. European troops might be stationed in a tiny buffer zone and sooner or later Hezbollah will either infiltrate to attack Israel or just launch a few missiles.

    What are our soldiers supposed to do then?
    Do nothing and hopefully get ignored by both sides? Except of course by right-wing pundits in Israel and the USA. 🙂
    Or do someting and get probably attacked by Hezbollah?

    I just see two scenarios in which deploying European soldiers would make sense.
    1) A general agreement including Hezbollah disarming. A deployment then would make sense. To build trust and supervise the disarming.
    That scenario would be politically acceptable to the European public I believe.
    2) Hezbollah doesn´t disarm. An international force will get deployed to disarm them by force.
    That´s what the Israelis are trying now and it´s obviously not working that well. I doubt European troops could do it especially since the European public won´t accept the casualties in that case.

    The scenario 3):
    Just ignore the weapons of Hezbollah. Deploy troops and hope for the best seems slightly irresponsible.

  5. Alex, what’s wrong with it is this: Hezbollah’s claim to legitimacy, Israel retaining face, and a euro fifty buys a ride on the Brussels Metro. It addresses none of the issues in Gaza or Palestine whatsoever and none of the sectarian issues in Lebanon that have made the Lebanese state so weak. At best, it does not advance the cause of a durable peace, at worst it actually postpones peace because it allows Israel to return to the status quo. Hezbollah will continue to fight, Hamas’ leadership will still be in prison, and Israel will still be intransigeant on every issue they can possibly be intransigeant about.

    The best solution would be one that saw Hezbollah take real damage, maybe making them a pariah in Lebanon, while forcing Israel to confront the catastrophic failure of its regional military supremacy. I would like to see Hezbollah scared for its continued existence and I want Israelis to genuinely believe that the status quo will ultimately kill them and no military solution can ever save them. I don’t want both sides to be able to claim victory, I want them both to face up to defeat.

    I have some hope that this war may still end with both sides losing, and I want both of this war’s main combatants to lose, if possible so seriously that their respective backers fell the pain. I realize that for the people of Lebanon, that means a humanitarian disaster, and I wish it was otherwise. But I am convinced that allowing the status quo to persist under the cover of a face-saving temporary solution will only kill more later, just as every armistice, provisional solution, and long term plan in the history of the region has only succeeding in reinforcing oppression, poverty and violence.

    I’m with Condoleeza Rice on the one issue she’s now retreating from: no more temporary solutions.

  6. Right, that’s what I thought. You actually want the Israelis to lose badly enough that they are forced to offer significant concessions. Similarly, you want Hezbollah scared.

    Why are you so quick to sacrifice Lebanese and Israeli lives for your geopolitical ambitions? There are numerous possible eventual solutions that don’t prolong the destruction. This desire to punish the Israelis is unhealthy, and the callousness towards lives in the here and now in the service of the promised later utopia is horrifying.

  7. >>> This desire to punish the Israelis is unhealthy, and the callousness towards lives in the here and now in the service of the promised later utopia is horrifying.

    But very European.

  8. There are numerous possible eventual solutions that don’t prolong the destruction.

    I realize that your post was an answer to Scott Martens I believe.
    But the quote above made me curious.
    I´d be very interested to read some of your “numerous solutions”. So why don´t you write a post about them? Or did you write about them somewhere else?
    That´s not snark, I´m really interested. As long as they are realistic, I´ll be interested in any solution. Since I´m somewhat pessimistic right now considering any real long-term solution.

  9. Mart,

    you cite vin rahm who spoke in his post about “numerous possible eventual solutions that don’t prolong the destruction” without actually naming any solution. Not to mention that “possible eventual” doesn´t sound exactly like anything that might prevent any further destruction now.

    And then you speak about Europeans.
    Just two short comments.

    First, it´s the American Secretary of State who is against a ceasefire now. Saying that she wants a “long-term solution”. So taken literally it´s her being callous “towards lives in the here and now in the service of the promised later utopia”.
    Just saying…

    And second those “Old European” weenies are asked to provide troops for that buffer zone. Both the USA and Great Britain are now in the “coalition of the unwilling”. 🙂

    Both have reasons for it but it´s just a tiny bit unfair to accuse Europeans of “callousness” and ask them in the same breath to send troops into a totally nebulous unclear situation.

  10. Well Detlef I wouldn’t accuse Euros of callousness-I’d use a different c-word-cowardice.Europeans characterize events in Lebanon as a humanitarian disaster but when asked what they would contribute to a solution answer with a demand that the US impose a cease-fire.The US is obviously willing to wait until the situation is anything but nebulous-i.e. Hezballah exterminatated.Since the Isrealis seem willing to accomplish this I see no reason why US troops should get involved-ever.You Euros are the ones unhappy with progress of events-but (again) you are unwilling to do what would be needed to be done to convince Isreal to stop.I’m puzzled why it would be wanted to stop destruction NOW-with hezballah existing-because the war will not stop until they are destroyed.War is hell,and you cannot refine it.Europe should stop trying.

  11. The War Will Not Stop Until Hezbollah Are Destroyed!

    How come, after 6000 years of never-ending war, which has achieved nothing except massive killing and destruction, that people still make such asinine statements.

    You cannot destroy different ideas of freedom and legitimate resistance movements with bombs and missiles. Get it! Look at Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iraq, the Palestinians Territories, etc.

  12. Vin, it is Israel and Hezbollah that are happy to sacrifice Lebanese lives for their own geopolitical ambitions. I just don’t want to add anyone else’s lives to the bonfire. I see no solution that will save lives in the end other than for both sides to end this war believing it was a horrible mistake to have started. Otherwise, they will just do it again. As for your invocation of some later utopia, reread what I said. Does any of it sound like I think there’s a utopia to be had in the Middle East under any circumstances?

    Mart, you do realize that among the Euros here, I’m the one who has no European citizenship and spent most of his life in the USA? That I grew in a Christian evangelical home, attended a predominately Jewish high school, and spent most of my career in Silicon Valley? I’m the least European and most American person blogging here. Just saying, if you’re going to be a bigot, you really ought to research your targets better.

  13. I see no solution that will save lives in the end other than for both sides to end this war believing it was a horrible mistake to have started.

    But it wasn’t. For Israel the mistake had been allowing itself to be forced to react to its enemies’ attacks. Reacting the way they are reacting now allows them to regain the initiative. Now they just need to swallow the fact that they’ll have to take heavy casualities to retake southern Lebanon.

  14. Well Daniel I note the Confederate States of America was well and thoroughly destroyed by war.Who are you to say what is legitimate and what isn’t? Have you noticed that you write using (basically) the alphabet of the Roman empire? How did that happen? How about Darfur? Rwanda? I’d say war is pretty effective at destroying all kinds of resistance movements,wanna-be nation states,and even great empires.Why this escapes so many people I just don’t get.I could go on for many pages worth of examples but most were so thoroughly destroyed as to be completely forgotten.I’ll list one more-the Hmong of Vietnam.After the communists conquered the south (using more tanks than Hitler used against Poland) most Hmong in SE Asia were killed and the survivors driven into refugee camps and eventually many ended up in the US.I used to work with one of them who told me about how the communists killed almost all his family.But I guess the Hmong didn’t have legitimate existance,right? It appears you chose your examples because the US or Isreal was involved.Well,in none of those cases have either intended to destroy those countries.Both Iraq and Afghanistan how have elected governments.If isreal wanted to destroy the palistinians they could do so quickly-bomb water supplies and port facilities might be enough.But they don’t-they just want and to the endless terrorist attacks launched from the territories.Buddy,I sure hope you are European because ther are enough silly,ignorant and clueless people in the US already and I don’t want to think I’ve found another one.Go read a book and learn something about the how world works

  15. The real issue being addressed by the Middle East nations and Western powers involved in the negotiations with Israel and Lebanon is Iran. That is their major concern, beyond the obvious task of stopping the ongoing warfare engagement between Hizballah and Israel. Everything we have watched over the past few months is being orchestrated carefully by Iran, with support from Syria, Hamas, Hizballah, and some other organizations. And Syria is faced with the choice and the Middle East Arab nations’ call to withdraw from its alliance with Iran.

    I am sure that many of you may disagree, but perhaps you should read up on Iran’s multiple activities not only in the region, but globally. Leaving Iran out of the Lebanon discussions is illogical and ill-advised. Iran is calling the major shots. Just track the timeline here.

    Iran:

    Foreign Affairs Committee, National Council of Resistance of Iran FAC, NCRI – IRAN NEWS

    Iran Focus – Iran NEWS

    Iran Focus: Iran – Terrorism – New Reports

    Al-Qaeda and Hizballah links with Palestinian terror groups (sponsored by Iran and Syria), 19 December 2002

    FAC, NCRI: Iran Mullahs’ Terrorist training camps – 14 June 2005

    20 Iran Focus: Terrorist Training Camps Identified in Iran – listed by name and location – 27 Feb 2006

    U.S. Department of State: United States Assessment and Policy Toward Iran – 8 Mar 2006

    The Role of Iran and Syria in the Israel-Lebanon Crisis, 20 July 2006, PINR

  16. The real issue being addressed by the Middle East nations and Western powers involved in the negotiations with Israel and Lebanon is Iran. That is their major concern, beyond the obvious task of stopping the ongoing warfare engagement between Hizballah and Israel. Everything we have watched over the past few months is being orchestrated carefully by Iran, with support from Syria, Hamas, Hizballah, and some other organizations. And Syria is faced with the choice and the Middle East Arab nations’ call to withdraw from its alliance with Iran.

    I am sure that many of you may disagree, but perhaps you should read up on Iran’s multiple activities not only in the region, but globally. Leaving Iran out of the Lebanon discussions is illogical and ill-advised. Iran is calling the major shots. Just track the timeline here.

    Iran:

    Foreign Affairs Committee, National Council of Resistance of Iran FAC, NCRI – IRAN NEWS

    Iran Focus – Iran NEWS

    Iran Focus: Iran – Terrorism – New Reports

    Al-Qaeda and Hizballah links with Palestinian terror groups (sponsored by Iran and Syria), 19 December 2002

    FAC, NCRI: Iran Mullahs’ Terrorist training camps – 14 June 2005

    20 Iran Focus: Terrorist Training Camps Identified in Iran – listed by name and location – 27 Feb 2006

    U.S. Department of State: United States Assessment and Policy Toward Iran – 8 Mar 2006

    The Role of Iran and Syria in the Israel-Lebanon Crisis, 20 July 2006, PINR

  17. The real issue being addressed by the Middle East nations and Western powers involved in the negotiations with Israel and Lebanon is Iran. That is their major concern, beyond the obvious task of stopping the ongoing warfare engagement between Hizballah and Israel. Everything we have watched over the past few months is being orchestrated carefully by Iran, with support from Syria, Hamas, Hizballah, and some other organizations. And Syria is faced with the choice and the Middle East Arab nations’ call to withdraw from its alliance with Iran.

    I am sure that many of you may disagree, but perhaps you should read up on Iran’s multiple activities not only in the region, but globally. Leaving Iran out of the Lebanon discussions is illogical and ill-advised. Iran is calling the major shots. Just track the timeline here.

  18. I would also read this information:

    Iran:

    Foreign Affairs Committee, National Council of Resistance of Iran FAC, NCRI – IRAN NEWS

    Iran Focus – Iran NEWS

    Iran Focus: Iran – Terrorism – New Reports

    Al-Qaeda and Hizballah links with Palestinian terror groups (sponsored by Iran and Syria), 19 December 2002

    FAC, NCRI: Iran Mullahs’ Terrorist training camps – 14 June 2005

    20 Iran Focus: Terrorist Training Camps Identified in Iran – listed by name and location – 27 Feb 2006

    U.S. Department of State: United States Assessment and Policy Toward Iran – 8 Mar 2006

    The Role of Iran and Syria in the Israel-Lebanon Crisis, 20 July 2006, PINR

  19. MG,
    By all accounts Hezbollah weren’t expecting such a severe response to what has been business as usual for some years so that isn’t really Iran orchestrated. Nor can Iran be held responsible for the apparent cluelessness of the Israeli plan.

    The site you link to also has Secretary Rice warning Iran and Syria not to scupper a ceasefire! Even so I do think that Secretary Rice should speak to the Iranians.

  20. Xennady, war-mongers like you are a dime a dozen. Bush thinks just like you and look at the mess the world is in.

    You’ve obviously read too many comics if you believe that war and killing solves problems. We need a new approach if this world is to ever have any peace. Get out of our road!

  21. That is pacifist wishful thinking.
    Have you seen any serious recent challenges to the ownership of Eastern Slavonia or Krajina, the unity of Viet Nam, the independance of Bangla Desh, the ownership of Biafra or the ownership of Danzig?
    Sometimes war works. We need to understand the conditions it works under and those it does not work under. Whether we like the conclusions or not.

  22. “But who pays for the repairs? Must be cheaper to pay for the repairs in Lebanon than send an international “peacekeeping” force. I think I just answered my own question”.

    for that matter it would be cheaper to relocate all the Israelis back to New York and New Jersay and Los Angeles than for the US to give Israel several more hundred billion dollars to fight what is really that last crusade to retate the “Holy Land”. I am tempted to do a clock showing about how much (no one really knows for sure but it is huge) US free money goes to Israel. The time it took me to write this it was at least several million dollars. The total aid pledged to Lebanon was probably about 3 hours aid to Israel.

  23. >6000 years of never-ending war

    If this is referring to the Holy Land, this is completely incorrect. I see this said often, probably because the Crusades are remembered in the odd movie in the modern day, but the Ottoman Empire is not.

    There were a good 450 years or so of rule by the Ottoman Empire of the Holy Land, during which time Jews, Muslims and Christians were all allowed their spheres in the body politic, and the bloodshed was all outside the borders of the Empire, let alone the Holy Land itself, until the 19th century revolutions and secessions of Greece, Egypt, etc. Since the disintegration of the Ottoman Empire, there has certainly been religious war again (though both Ba’athism and Nasserism, I believe, were secular movements, which would have included Arab Christians). But “neverending” it was not.

    /quibble

  24. About $3 billion per year goes from the US to Israel, as against about $1.5 billion per year from the US to Egypt.

    That can be read in a number of different ways: “holy crap! Twice as much to Israel!”, or: “holy crap! Egypt gets that much? Then why doesn’t anyone complain about the insidious ‘Egypt Lobby’?”, or: “like it or not, Israel became our proxy army in the region during the Cold War, so we are where we are, and at least it’s a good proxy army,” or: “what do you mean, ‘we are where we are’? We’re the ones that put ourselves there!” or, or, or…

    This is partly a legacy of the dollar diplomacy of the Cold War. Wisely or unwisely, we competed with the USSR in providing financial aid and weapons to countries in the region (including also, as mentioned, Saudi Arabia and Egypt, by the way). The American and British plot against Mosaddeq, the Prime Minister of Iran, in 1951, removed someone who might nationalize their oil, but it left the state of Iran broken; instead of becoming a functional liberal democracy or republic, Iran toggled between unresponsive Shah and unresponsive mullahs. These acts of ours had effects there. If Iran had been allowed their Mosaddeq, there might have been no revolution, and no Hezbollah.

    So I view Israel as a two-by-four stick, propping up a creaky, leaning house. It would have been better to build a well-balanced house, and a prop will never make it into a proper house. But if you remove the prop, what will happen?

  25. Jack – “By all accounts Hezbollah weren’t expecting such a severe response to what has been business as usual for some years so that isn’t really Iran orchestrated. Nor can Iran be held responsible for the apparent cluelessness of the Israeli plan.”

    I am not questioning that Hizballah, Hamas, Iran, and Syria didn’t expect that Israel would respond with the level of force and military engagement that has occurred. That much is obvious and has been acknowledged by some representatives.

    I am saying that Iran gave the groups ‘the go ahead’ and encouragement on the most recent Hamas action in Gaza, and, also, the Hizballah related action in Israel as well as the follow up extensive rocket bombardment. It is well known in intelligence circles that Hamas and Hizballah are coordinating directly with Iran. As importantly, it has already been established that some Iranian troops skilled in rocket systems were not only in Lebanon supporting Hizballah, but at least 9 were killed and subsequently returned to Iran.

    It also appears that you’re overlooking or ignoring what occurred between 2 July and 9 July, before the situation escalated. Kindly study the pieces of the puzzle and decide if you want to dismiss the coincidences.

    Iran called for regional action against Israel and got it, deflecting some attention away from its G-8/UN problems regarding nuclear nonproliferation.

    Coincidence? I think not. Nor do the G-8 members and representatives who have spoken on the matter.

  26. Jack,

    Here’s part of what occurred between 2 July and 9 July.

    TIMELINE:

    2 July – The Foreign Affairs Committee of the British House of Commons issued a security report expressing concern over the Iranian regime’s terrorist activities in Iraq.

    3 July – Lebanese Prime Minister urged Iran to stop nuclear program; also stated that he did “not approve of any intervention made by Iran into our affairs”. – Public news media interview, complete with podium microphones.

    4 July – Uk’s Blair urges quick response from Iran over nuclear offer.

    5 July – Iran postponed crucial nuclear talks with the European Union (to be resumed on 6 July).

    6 July – Iran defied international calls for an early reply to an offer of incentives aimed at ending a nuclear stand-off, insisting on Thursday it would use a key July 11 meeting merely to raise questions on the package.

    7 July – French officials confirmed Friday that foreign ministers from the five permanent UN Security Council members and Germany would meet next week in Paris to discuss the standoff with Iran over its nuclear program.

    7 July – Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad told thousands of demonstrators gathered in the capital, Tehran, to condemn the strikes in the Gaza Strip that Israel’s supporters could be the target of revenge by Muslims. “They should not let things reach a point where an explosion occurs in the Islamic world,” he said. “If an explosion occurs, then it won’t be limited to geographical boundaries. It will also burn all those who created (Israel) over the past 60 years,” he said. Ahmadinejad once again questioned Israel’s right to exist. “This is a fake regime … it won’t be able to survive. I think the only way (forward) is that those who created it (the West) take it away themselves,” the president said. Hamas’ representative in Iran, Abu Osamah Abdulmota, gave a -sermon speech before weekly Friday prayers in Tehran. – Associated Press report

    8 July – Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejed called on Islamic countries Saturday to mobilise against Israel and “remove” the “Zionist regime”. “The basic problem in the Islamic world is the existence of the Zionist regime, and the Islamic world and the region must mobilise to remove this problem,” the president said in a speech to regional officials. “Today there is a strong will… to remove the Zionist regime and implement a legal Palestinian regime all over Palestine.” And he added, “The biggest threat today for the region is the existence of the fake Zionist regime.” He was speaking at the opening of a two-day conference in Tehran on security in Iraq. – Agence France Presse report

    8 July – Israel is the main threat to the Islamic world, Iran’s president said Saturday. “The main problem of the Islamic world is the existence of the Zionist regime [Israel],” Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said. He said that “the Islamic world should mobilize all of its resources to eliminate this problem.” – RIA Novosti, Russia, Tehran news report

    8 July – “The main issue faced by the Islamic world is Israel’s existence. The Islamic countries should mobilize their efforts to do away with this issue,” said the Iranian president addressing the ministers of foreign affairs of Jordan, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Turkey, Bahrain and Egypt at the conference of Muslim countries. Having repeated more than once Tehran’s proposal for Middle East stabilization, the Iranian leader also shared his belief that “all the conditions for eliminating the Zionist regime” are currently in place. – Pyotr Goncharov, Political Commentator of the RIA Novosti, Russia (released on 15 July, with commentary focus on events in Gaza and Lebanon as well as nuclear nonproliferation)

    9 July – Iran state news media sources reported that Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Siniora will travel to Tehran in the near future to hold talks with Iran. The meeting is at the request of Iranian officials.

  27. So I view Israel as a two-by-four stick, propping up a creaky, leaning house. It would have been better to build a well-balanced house, and a prop will never make it into a proper house. But if you remove the prop, what will happen?

    Hmm, isn’t Israel, in fact, exactly the opposite – the two-by-four being used to destroy the house?

  28. Well, abb1, we made the mistake of blogging about the Middle East – and as usual, out came the maniacs..

  29. I’m sure that Iran is meddling in Levantine affairs but if they weren’t expecting such a response it can’t be part of a subtle plan to create a major distraction on their part.

    Honestly if there is a site called USAwatch out there monitoring US actions in the region they’ll have trouble keeping up. There’s Condi telling Syria and Iran not to interfere with a ceasefire and there she is again vetoing calls for a ceasefire. They’re funding the Israelis and the Kurds and the dodgy regimes in Saudi and Egypt. They’re complaining about the Iranians working on nuclear energy while they fund the Pakistanis who in turn are funding the Taliban who are fighting those crazy Americans and also have actual nuclear weapons which they have been spreading to all kinds of people although ironically possibly not the Iranians who are after all their neighbours. The US is also complaining about Iranian interference in Iraq which it has thrown into chaos and happens ot neighbour Iraq so Iranians are not supposed to take action when their neighbours collapse but somehow the US doing it from thousands of miles away is OK. Also the US is behind the Saudis who are most clearly behind AlQuaeda.

    The Iranian regime is very ugly so it’s frustrating that I’m not sure what we could have done to make them look better. When Putin can make you look ridiculous on human rights and democracy grounds you should know you’ve screwed up. The problem is if you have a large enough army you can go on blaming other people and making monsters like Ahmedinijad and Putin look good merely by being someone else.

  30. >Well, abb1, we made the mistake of blogging about the Middle East – and as usual, out came the maniacs..

    Ex- _cuse_ me? OK, let me take a moment to acknowledge that just because you wrote that after abb1’s response to me, it doesn’t mean that you were singling me out with that. But who exactly has said something deserving of that comment here?

  31. Anyway, my point earlier was that the acts of the US and the USSR during the Cold War fed a lot of the problems that we see today. Our removal of Prime Minister Mosaddeq of Iran led to the destabilization of Iran, which now supports Hezbollah as a proxy army against Israel. The US’ and USSR’s arming of Egypt and Israel led to much hotter wars in the region (and, by the way, we can see that in the USSR and Egypt’s case, it didn’t seem to convert the client to communism, nor even to a permanently anti-US stance). If that’s left us Israel as a sometime proxy army of our own, then I’m sure it’s not ideal, but we are where we are. We have a proxy army.

    Israel, in its wars, with the exception of the Suez crisis, has historically been the defender, not the aggressor. Looking at the 1949 “kill Israel in its crib” war, the six-day war, and the Yom Kippur war, I’m not exactly seeing Israel as the destructive force there. They’ve been constantly attacked for decades.

    They have not been without stain, that’s for sure. I found Ariel Sharon’s purposeful provocation of the second Intifada to be vile, and much of his behavior toward the Palestinians over the last five years to be without conscience. You’ll notice, too, that I have not declared that this action they’re taking now in Lebanon is necessarily correct. If our proxy army is leading the charge to general war in the Mideast, then I’m against it. I am also most concerned of all about the innocent people, Israelis and Lebanese both, who are suffering right now. I’d like Israel to negotiate a cease-fire, and I’d be happy if the Europeans took the lead in mediating it.

  32. Alex – “Well, abb1, we made the mistake of blogging about the Middle East – and as usual, out came the maniacs..”

    Mysticusque,

    I am sure he talking about me, not you.

    These fellows haven’t seen me post here, other than on the sister blog regarding some economic issues.

    And I’m not rolling over for the standard “Israel is wrong” pitch, even though I believe Israel has made a major mistake this time. I have focused some attention on Iran as a key party to the ongoing militarism.

  33. Oh, okay. Thanks. Well I don’t want to assume anything further. But I would argue that Iran _certainly_ has a strong hand in Hezbollah’s activities, I didn’t think that was even contested. The idea that a ragtag Hezbollah insurgency with no means would suddenly pop up with Iranian Sa’ad (Thunder) rockets, which have five times the range and 10 times the payload of the Qassam and Katyusha rockets Hamas has been using, without thinking that Iran would set the conditions of their use, or that Hezbollah is independent of Iran, though Iran funds them and gives them weapons, seems to be absolutely untrue on the face of it.

    Nor does it seem crazy to assume, as many have done, that Iran is keeping Iraq destabilized; having been named part of the Axis of Evil, would they want the US to have a happy model state next door, so that (in their minds) we could then move on to the next place? It doesn’t seem crazy at all to consider that Iran wants the area destabilized, because a stable Iraq would help the US in this case. Whether Iran incited Hezbollah for the same purpose, I don’t know, but it isn’t a crazy idea at all. Iran is dynamic. According to http://www.globalsecurity.org, Iranian rocket scientists have trained in Russian facilities, beginning several years ago. This led to their record-breaking Hut missile, which they tested last year. They’ve also made concord with China recently. Their previous incitements of Hezbollah are well known. Since Iran, though their leadership may be bigoted, violent and small-minded, is well aware of the international implications of each action, and since Hezbollah is funded and armed by them, why would it be crazy to suggest that Iran is using Hezbollah as a pawn in their international relations?

    Movie Guy, you may be wrong too–they might not have been calling you a maniac.

  34. Jack – “I’m sure that Iran is meddling in Levantine affairs but if they weren’t expecting such a response it can’t be part of a subtle plan to create a major distraction on their part.”

    Of course it was. Though they didn’t expect this level of response, Iran certainly needed a distraction. Now, they are having to move to Gameplan 2, logistical resupply during battle. And Israel has made that prospect more difficult.

    It’s no accident that Iraq incidents reached new heights at the same time as the Hamas and Hizballah actions.

    “They’re complaining about the Iranians working on nuclear energy”

    That’s not the issue. Nonproliferation is the issue, and I have plenty of slides pointing to the EU3/G-8/UN concerns that extend beyond simple criticism of the U.S.. The U.S. isn’t alone on this matter. But you know that. Or should.

    Also the US is behind the Saudis who are most clearly behind AlQuaeda

    The Saudi government is not behind Al Qaeda now. AQ is working more closely with Hamas and Hizballah (and Iran) on projects which will lead to historical changes throughout the Middle East and other regions. As a professional friend shared in an email today: “IS/LE – pressure there has potential to relieve pressure in IZ especially with AQ recent call for all good Islamists to go there to create an Islamic region stretching from Spain to IZ – Why IZ, not Iran?”

    That was a pretty good anti- U.S. post. Maybe its time for Europe to stand up and lead the world, including all democracy initiatives and global military protection. Should Ameicans park their Hummers and LBE (load bearing equipment) in anticipation? The help would be appreciated if Europe can put forth that level of leadership and financial commitment.

    In rough numbers, the U.S. citizens could save about US$600 billion per year under the global umbrella leadership of Europe’s finest. I am confident that the savings would be greatly appreciated.

    Bring it on. Make it happen. 🙂

  35. The idea that a ragtag Hezbollah insurgency with no means would suddenly pop up with Iranian Sa’ad (Thunder) rockets, which have five times the range and 10 times the payload of the Qassam and Katyusha rockets Hamas has been using, without thinking that Iran would set the conditions of their use, or that Hezbollah is independent of Iran, though Iran funds them and gives them weapons, seems to be absolutely untrue on the face of it.

    That was an ugly sentence. Edit:

    The idea that a ragtag Hezbollah insurgency with no means would suddenly pop up with Iranian Sa’ad (Thunder) rockets, which have five times the range and 10 times the payload of the Qassam and Katyusha rockets Hamas has been using, without thinking that Iran would set the conditions of their use seems prima facie untrue. So does the idea that Hezbollah is independent of Iran, though Iran funds them and gives them weapons.

  36. For those interested in understanding what is really happening, find time to listen to Friday’s press conference with Prime Minister Blair and President Bush. (available on CSpan, too.)

    These leaders explained the macro picture and considerations very well. There should be few questions beyond their presentations.

  37. Xennady wrote:

    Well Detlef I wouldn’t accuse Euros of callousness-I’d use a different c-word-cowardice.Europeans characterize events in Lebanon as a humanitarian disaster but when asked what they would contribute to a solution answer with a demand that the US impose a cease-fire.The US is obviously willing to wait until the situation is anything but nebulous-i.e. Hezballah exterminatated.Since the Isrealis seem willing to accomplish this I see no reason why US troops should get involved-ever.

    First, let me apolopize. I was out of town for two days.

    Just two comments.
    First it looks increasingly unlikely that Israel can exterminate Hezbollah. And Israeli talks about holding a buffer zone in Southern Lebanon to prevent further attacks don´t sound as if they´re confident of eradicating Hezbollah.

    Second, the USA and Great Britain have already stated that they won´t deploy any troops to Southern Lebanon while proposing that other nations should do it. Coalition of the unwilling, so to speak 🙂

    I suggest you just shut up when you´re proposing that the cowardly Europeans should deploy troops there while you won´t do it.
    Got it?
    We just would like to avoid a situation where our soldiers were supposed to be greeted with flowers and candies as the US troops in Iraq some years ago. Remember American newspapers back then?

    Why should we repeat your mistake?
    To avoid being called cowards by pundits who were wrong for years now?
    Each of your American war-cheerleaders was proven wrong in the last three years. I´m amazed that anyone is still willing to read them.

  38. Movie Guy,
    Not invading Iraq would leave me with more military resources at my disposal, a bluff not called, not the butt of Putin’s jokes and a few hundred billion in credit. Seriously I’m going no further than described below.

    I think US discussion of middle east events is very unselfconscious and distorted by the idea that all events there are about the US, outdated friendships and enmities, over reliance on military force and a preference for dealing with often weak and corrupt states rather than more dynamic and rooted popular movements. Most of all since the worst that usually happens to the US as a result of policy mistakes is another few billion on the deficit it is slow to learn. That got taken to an extreme degree over the Iraq invasion. Suddenly the countries that had responded so supportively and swiftly supported action in Afghanistan were anti-American cowards and “surrender monkeys” — not an apt description of the French in my experience. Strangely the Mexicans and Canadians didn’t get it in the neck for taking a similar view.

    I’m not sure the US has put a foot right in the middle east since deciding not to go to Baghdad first time round. Failing to support the 1993 rebellion it incited then using the death toll from its failure as one of the rotating reasons for invading 10 years later is a favourite example.

    I think the idea that the war on Lebanon is an Iranian ruse is wildly off base and insofar as it contains some truth misses other causes and consequences of equal or greater importance.

    If this is all a distraction for Iran it could have been neatly sidestepped by not launching a repeat of the 1982 fiasco that actually gave birth to Hezbollah.

    As a smokescreen it will be ineffective unless you think that western media coverage is the only element of pressure on Iran. I don’t think the negotiators will feel more lenient as a result.

    Calling the bombardment of Lebanon a growth pain of democracy is delusional. With Lebanon and Iraq as the showcase examples for democracy in the Middle East, who’s going to buy?

    I think of Sharon as monster but one who had two advantages over his successor. He had enough credibility with the Israeli electorate to not respond excessively to a minor incursion and he had some idea of what he was doing.

    Really the achievement of making Palestinians and Lebanese attracted to fundamentalists is pretty much as amazing as making burqas hip in Miami.

  39. My comments about the “maniacs” comment above, by the way, should not be read as unequivocally stating that this was an Iranian ruse. Simply that it was waaay over the top and uncalled for, not to mention a cheap ad hominem attack, avoiding discussion of the substantive issues, to dismiss Movie Guy as a “maniac” for suggesting it as a possibility. I consider it as axiomatic that Hezbollah, beholden as they are to Iran, wouldn’t do anything against Iran’s wishes. As to their motives for what they did over the last few months, that’s open to debate.

    Jack, I generally agree with you on Ariel Sharon. I’m persuaded that Olmert, not having Ariel Sharon’s history, didn’t feel he had the luxury of a moderate, restrained response.

    Also,

    Suddenly the countries that had responded so supportively and swiftly supported action in Afghanistan were anti-American cowards and “surrender monkeys” — not an apt description of the French in my experience. Strangely the Mexicans and Canadians didn’t get it in the neck for taking a similar view.

    Let me take this opportunity to say, as an American, that I think this _stinks._ The Canadians, French, and Germans have fought and died with us in Afghanistan, from the first day. No-one here has acknowledged that. Instead, they just insulted them for not following us into Iraq. I thank the French, Germans, and Canadians, for helping us to go after the _real_ 9/11 criminals.

  40. Or to rephrase:
    The idea that a small nation with few means would suddenly pop up with precison guided weapons and cluster bombs without thinking that the US would set the conditions of their use seems prima facie untrue. So does the idea that Israel is independent of the US, though the US funds them and gives them weapons.

    The rephrasing is a gross distortion that overestimates US control of Israel’s actions – but the original post is just as great a distortion.

  41. Not at all–Israel was an entity in its own right for decades, completely independently of the United States. The United States opposed Israel when it went into Egypt during the Suez Crisis of 1956. Finally, years later, during Israel’s later conflicts with the Arab nations, the United States committed itself to arming Israel. We sell arms to many, many countries. If Iran merely _sold_ arms to some other country, or even to some organic insurgency, then your statement would be correct. But unless you know something I don’t, Iran has not only armed, but also been the primary funder and supporter of Hezbollah as well. That’s quite different from only selling arms to someone.

    Are you saying that Hezbollah grew up by itself, independently of Iran, and that Iran just looks in once in a while and sells it arms? Or do you agree that Hezbollah never would have continued to exist, except as a small insurgency, without Iran supporting it, with funds as well as men? If the former, then I have to say that the distortion is not mine, but I’m willing to hear any evidence you have. On the other hand, if the United States, in addition to selling arms to Israel, actually provided all its funding, the inspiration for its ideology, and even much of its actual manpower, then yes, I would suspect the US’ hand in everything Israel did.

  42. Again, I stress that this does not mean that Movie Guy is necessarily right, that Iran closely directed Hezbollah’s acts of the last few months in order to deflect attention from its nuclear program. Merely that it is not at all a distortion of reality, maniacal, or in any other way insane to imagine that it is possible.

  43. Globalsecurity.org is a well-respected source for military information. They say the following (emphasis added):

    http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/world/para/hizballah.htm

    Hizballah / Hizbollah / Hizbullah / Hezbollah
    Party of God
    Islamic Jihad
    Islamic Jihad for the Liberation of Palestine
    Organization of the Oppressed on Earth
    Revolutionary Justice Organization

    Hizballah is an Islamic movement founded after the Israeli military seizure of Lebanon in 1982, which resulted in the formation of Islamic resistance units committed to the liberation of the occupied territories and the ejection of Israeli forces. Hizbollah was established in 1982 during the Lebanon War when a group of Lebanese Shi’ite Muslims declared themselves to be the “Party of God” (Hizb Allah, which is clear in Hizbollah but progressively less so in Hizbollah / Hizbullah / Hezbollah). Upon the realization that the IDF was entrenching itself in south Lebanon, and influenced and assisted by 1,500 Iranian Revolutionary Guards in Lebanon, Hizballah cells began developing with the immediate desire to resist the Israeli invasion. Hizbollah began establishing its base in Lebanon in 1982 and has expanded and strengthened ever since, primarily due to its wave of suicide bombings and foreign support by Iran and Syria.

    Description

    Formed in 1982 in response to the Israeli invasion of Lebanon, this Lebanon-based radical Shia group takes its ideological inspiration from the Iranian revolution and the teachings of the late Ayatollah Khomeini. The Majlis al-Shura, or Consultative Council, is the group’s highest governing body and is led by Secretary General Hasan Nasrallah. Hizballah is dedicated to liberating Jerusalem and eliminating Israel, and has formally advocated ultimate establishment of Islamic rule in Lebanon. Nonetheless, Hizballah has actively participated in Lebanon’s political system since 1992. This radical Shia is dedicated to creation of Iranian-style Islamic republic in Lebanon and removal of all non-Islamic influences from area. It is strongly anti-Western and anti-Israeli.

    A very important factor that developed Hizballah was the establishment of the Islamic Revolution in Iran that was led by the Imam Khomeini. […]

    External Aid

    Hizballah was established by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards who came to Lebanon during the 1982 “Peace for Galilee” war, as part of the policy of exporting the Islamic revolution. It receives substantial amounts of financial, training, weapons, explosives, political, diplomatic, and organizational aid from Iran and Syria. Published reports that Iran provides hundreds million dollars of aid annually are probably exaggerated. Iran probably provides financial assistance and military assistance worth about $25-50 million.

    Hizballah is closely allied with, and often directed by, Iran but has the capability and willingness to act independently. Closely allied with, and often directed by Iran, it may have conducted operations that were not approved by Tehran. Though Hizballah does not share the Syrian regime’s secular orientation, the group has been a strong ally in helping Syria advance its political objectives in the region.

    […] In March 2005, Hizballah organized a large demonstration to protest American and other international pressure on Syria to completely withdraw from Lebanon. Syria did subsequently withdraw its military and intelligence forces. The Syrian withdrawal may have left a vacuum for Iran to expand its influence in Lebanon and on Hizballah.

    In Israel’s view, Hizballah’s activities are part of Iran’s overall policy with regard to Israel, which is to fan the flames of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and initiate terrorist activities against Israel, despite the fact that Hizballah is a Lebanese organization consisting entirely of terrorists from Lebanon, with no national connection to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. In view of Iran’s interest in smudging its fingerprints with regard to direct control over internal terrorist activities, Hizballah’s status is significant as Iran’s front-line operative arm against Israel.

    This indicates very clearly that, while not strictly puppets of Iran, and while able to act independently, there is a very great deal of Iranian support of Hezbollah. The 1500 Iranian Revolutionary Guard members mentioned is significant, considering that at most, the whole militia is said to be able to muster perhaps 10,000 fighters. This intimate level of support from Iran certainly outstrips the level of the United States’ funding and arming of Israel. The US does, of course, fund and arm Israel generously, and Israel might perhaps even owe its continued existence to us, so you may argue that the US can influence Israel with a word. But I say again, in the absence of further evidence (which no-one here, by the way, has provided) that Hezbollah is never directed by Iran, I think it is not at all insane to think that Hezbollah might have been directed by Iran in this case. Though the globalsecurity.org article says that they sometimes act independently, that word is _sometimes._ Movie Guy’s suggestion is not crazy, nor were my suggestions a wild distortion.

  44. And forgive the many posts, but I want to be clear. When I say:

    This intimate level of support from Iran certainly outstrips the level of the United States’ funding and arming of Israel.

    That means that our aid to Israel, considering its size relative to the several thousand members of Hezbollah, is dwarfed in its significance to the supported entity by Iran’s support of Hezbollah. Our 3 billion dollars annually for Israel is certainly very large, but without it, Israel would still have a defence budget. They have their own industry and means of support, independently of us. Iran’s 25-50 million for Hezbollah, on the other hand, for an organization of only 10,000, is mammoth, and dwarfs Hezbollah’s other means of support. I hope I’m not speaking to thin air here, but I’m a bit nonplussed that no-one acknowledges my basic point: Iran’s support for Hezbollah is huge, and it was over the top to call the suggestion that they may have directed Hezbollah “maniacal.” They clearly do direct Hezbollah sometimes, and have influence over them. Or, if that’s not true, then what are those accusing “distortion” or “maniacs!” saying? That they never direct Hezbollah? Go ahead and say it. But be sure to say in preface: “even though their funding of Hezbollah is hugely important to Hezbollah’s survival…”

  45. Those 1500 revolutionary guard troops were there in the 1980’s. Everybody assumes that they have left in the 1990’s so i don’t really see how they can constitute a large part of Hezbollah now.

    The US can influence Israel by not resupplying weapons and fuel.

    50 million on a assumed budget of 700 million is not exactly peanuts but isn’t live and death either. Its share is compairable with the share of US support to Israel.

    It is also not an organisation of 10.000 but of around 400.000 to 800.000 people (depending on how you count). 10.000 is more the Hezbollah army when they call up all reserves and auxilleries.

  46. And, if they’re all IRGC, how come the Israelis never, ever caught one in 18 years of occupation? Not one prisoner, not one body, not one single item of hard evidence.

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