TCS Daily


Shaken and Stirred

By Josh Manchester - July 21, 2006 12:00 AM

The US invasion of Iraq has so shaken and stirred the Middle East that some exceptionally strange things are happening. More importantly, these things unequivocally favor the US in influencing the outcome of the Israeli-Hezbollah War now taking place in Lebanon.

What sorts of strange things? Well, consider an Arab League meeting in Cairo over the weekend, where a fight of sorts broke out. Jed Babbin described it best:

"This meeting began with the Lebanese foreign minister Fawzi Salloukh proposing a resolution condemning Israel's military action, supporting Lebanon's 'right to resist occupation by all legitimate means' ... The Lebanese draft also called on Israel to release all Lebanese prisoners and supported Lebanon's right to 'liberate them by all legitimate means.' ... The Syrian foreign minister, Walid Moallem, strongly supported Lebanon and Hizballah. But an historic obstacle was raised that blocked the Lebanese endorsement of terrorism.

"The Saudi foreign minister, al-Faisal, led a triumvirate including Egypt and Jordan that, according to the AP report, was '...criticizing the guerilla group's actions, calling them 'unexpected, inappropriate and irresponsible acts.'' Faisal said, 'These acts will pull the whole region back to years ago, and we simply cannot accept them.' . . . The Arab leaders are frightened that the acts of the terrorists they have coddled for decades might have consequences for them. And they are very frightened of what Iran may do next.'

These regimes would most certainly not be afraid of what Iran may do next if Saddam Hussein still ran Iraq, providing for the Arab world a deterrent against Iran.

In fact, this leads to the second strange event of late: Saddam's own comments, as reported in Deutsche Presse-Agentur, about the war in Lebanon:

"Toppled Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein has issued a warning to the Syrian leadership 'not to go too far in its alliance with Iran,' blaming Tehran for the current flare-up of violence in the Middle East, the head of Saddam's defence team claimed Tuesday ... 'I am convinced that the Iranian and US agendas have met in Iraq and elsewhere in the Arab world and Arabs are now placed between the US-Israeli hammer and the Iranian anvil,' Duleimi quoted Saddam as saying."

This is a man whose prized dictatorship was overrun by US forces, who was captured by US forces, and who as a result is on trial for his life. He blames Tehran primarily for the current flare-up, not some Zionist-US conspiracy in the standard rhetoric of the region. Remarkable.

In fact, Saddam is quite astute when he notes that the Arabs are placed between the US-Israeli hammer and the Iranian anvil. Before the US invasion, Iraq was the geostrategic pivot of the Middle East. All of the fault lines in the area's politics converge there. The Sunni-Shia split; the Arab-Persian split; the Ba'athist-Wahhabist split; and the Muslim-Israeli split: each of these ran through Iraq via its ethnic and religious makeup; its geographic location; and its former interests, alliances, and enemies.

The 'big bang,' as invading Iraq has sometimes been called, was meant to reorder the nature of politics in the region. This has been accomplished in a fundamental way. The idea of dividing an enemy force into its constituent parts and then dealing with it piecemeal is at least as old as Caesar's actions in Gaul. It applies no less to US strategy in the Middle East. Every faction there has been made to reconsider its relationship with every other. Rather than there being a monolithic clash of civilizations, thus far the US is dealing with the area in pieces -- in whatever way it sees fit to do so -- whether making it tacitly clear to Syria that what happened in Iraq could more easily happen to it, or threatening Iran on behalf of the region and world, or seeking cooperation with the Saudis in hunting down al Qaeda.

Far from being a bit of belated triumphalism about the invasion, all of this has immediate and direct consequences. While the success of Iraq's democracy hangs in the balance from an operational perspective, the strategic advantages created by the invasion of Iraq are working very favorably for the US in the current Israeli-Lebanon crisis in very tangible ways.

Were Saddam still in power, the Arab world would not feel nearly as threatened by Hezbollah, the Frankenstein's monster of Iran's creation. Instead, they would have sided with the Syrian foreign minister's strong support for Hezbollah. Saddam himself might even have offered cash rewards to anyone attempting martyrdom against the Jews.

Instead, they came to no consensus. The leading Arab League states, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and Egypt, call Hezbollah's actions "inappropriate and irresponsible." This lessens the urgency of calls from the international community, whether the G8, UN, or EU, for a ceasefire. That lessened urgency creates something very precious indeed: a moment in time and space wherein Israel has the most fleeting of opportunities for decisive action against Hezbollah, an avowed foe, a terrorist organization, and a constant threat to the security of its populace.

Decisive action is what has traditionally been missing from the wars of the Middle East. Land changes hands, blows are exchanged, and peace eventually is negotiated. But the underlying dynamic never changes because the sides are rarely faced with a decisive defeat, the only condition that can force the most avowed of men to abandon the ideas they hold dear.

Israel now has the chance to destroy Hezbollah. Only time can tell what Israel will do with the opportunity it possesses. Opportunities forsaken are opportunities lost forever, as MacArthur was sometimes rumored to say. But let there be no mistake: this moment would not have been possible without the invasion of Iraq, and the destruction of Hezbollah is very much in the interest of the United States and that of any other nation that abhors terrorism.

Josh Manchester is a TCS Daily contributing writer. Find more of his writing here.

Categories:

163 Comments

Efficacy of routing Hezbollah
Jesse Walker has an interview with Chet Richards at Reason magazine:

http://www.reason.com/links/links072006.shtml

Richards argues all sorts of things. I guess it's supposed to suggest that we can't deal with Hezbollah anyway and neither can Israel, so why bother. And why bother cheerleading for Israel when we could be part of the solution like Spain.

So it's a funny place we who see Islamofascism as a problem find ourselves in. The Catholic contingent (Vatican, Pat Buchanan, Lou Dobbs, etc.) preach a "just war" theory, which says Israel should just shut up and take the rocket attacks from extranational irregulars. The Libertarian contingent wants us to give up. It's a good thing that mainstream Dems count the Jewish vote as their most important constituency, or there would be no support for letting Israel do what it has to do. Unbelievable...

The prospects for wider destabilization
Washington seems please as punch at the prospect of Arab League involvement. But I think that's a will-o-the-wisp. Egypt will do nothing. Saudi Arabia will do nothing (they have Shiites of their own). And Jordan is sitting on a powder keg all its own. So I wouldn't look for hordes of happy Arabs to come jumping in to Israel's aid. They are all just sitting uneasily on the sidelines.

Nor is the IDF likely to bomb Damascus, an act that would ignite a regional conflagration-- actually, a mini world war. So I think it all boils down to what the Lebanese want to do about it. Not the Shiite Lebanese, we know what they want. I mean the Christians and Sunnis who have been the victims of the aerial campaign.

Any bets?

Is there something positive to say?
The situation does not call for any of them to act, only to stand aside and let Israel develop the situation. That actually is the big change in the area, that the players expected to squawk are taking a pass.

As for the "Christians and Sunnis" propaganda, I think the article removes any question about that situation.

Syria and Iran are going to look very weak if The Party of God is decimated and removed; that will be a change in power and percieved power that will really isolate both of them.

Lebanese
The Lebanese, who have been willing to do nothing (including ask for help) to get rid of Hezbollah (sp?), will do nothing to resist Israel, which is currently pounding the hell out of Hezbollah.

While Hezbollah has proven itself capable of close quarters intimidation and mayhem, it has now shown the world that it is "the gang that can't shoot straight" when it comes to an exchange of long range ordinance with Israel, which has made far more effective and far more just use of its ordinance.

Hezbollah has "called the question"; Israel has sent its answer. Hezbollah has vowed to fight to the last man to destroy Israel. I think it is only fair that Israel continue until the "last man" has fallen and claimed his virgins.

Exactly
The problem is, after the Syrians withdrew and the Lebanese elected a new government, there was a priceless window of opportunity for the U.S. and allies to do a full-court press to reach out to the non-Hezbollah Lebanese, offering to support them in getting rid of the militia. With carrots and sticks. It might not have worked, but it was an obvious priority. Instead, Washington just congratulated itself on the elections for internal propaganda purposes, and walked away. It didn't even have the intelligence to pick up a flood of weapons into Lebanon.

So Hezbolla hits Israel now, and Israel bombs the whole country. Just a guess, but this is not the way to win the hearts & minds of the non-Shiite Lebanese, let alone the Shiites.

Sure, blame the Lebanese
That doesn't further a solution.

The problem here is events in the Middle East have proven, over and over, the limits of military power, and specifically of Israeli power. Why is this Lebanon operation going to be more successful than the ones in the past -- or the occupatio of S. Lebanon, for that matter.

"..., and Israel bombs the whole country."
A minor exaggeration, perhaps?

Success
Another "cease fire" to allow the terrorists to rearm would not succeed, except in allowing them to rearm. Total annihilation, on the other hand, would end the threat from this "batch" of terrorists. Sounds good to me.

The view from my armchair
The whole issue is very likely more factional and complex than we can do justice to in a quick synopsis.

By Christians and Sunnis I was referring to the main split among many splits within the Lebanese population. There is an urban, cosmopolitan and largely secular group of coastal Lebanese who relate to Europe as much as they do to the Arab states. These are very largely a different group than the poor, rural, religious sorts that back Hezbollah and live largely in the interior and the slums of the country. I don't mean to say there is some kind of religious dimension to the issue. There is instead a cultural divide.

I think everyone IS standing aside and letting Israel set the pace. However I think if they move to expand the brush fire so it threatens to envelop more of the region that sensible minds will step in and intervene. That's just my sense of the matter.

This is an all or nothing situation for the Party of God (Hezbollah), and they stand to win or lose big time if the gamble doesn't pay off. Yet I am not convinced that if the struggle goes against them we're going to see intervention from Syria or Iran. They're just not feeling that suicidal, IMO.

If the IDF were to bomb Damascus, on the other hand, all bets would be off. We'd have a widespread general war in the entire region.

Ask the Lebanese
The country's the size of Connecticut. I wasn't saying the bombing was totally indiscriminate, or meant to create civilian casulties. But a lot of bombs are falling in a small place.

Easier said than done
So how do you carry out the total annihilation mission? Terrorists don't come marked with a big red T on their foreheads. Do you just kill the entire Shiite population all & let God sort them out? If not, what's the formula?

Tired argument already debunked
>"The problem is, after the Syrians withdrew and the Lebanese elected a new government, there was a priceless window of opportunity for the U.S. and allies to do a full-court press to reach out to the non-Hezbollah Lebanese, offering to support them in getting rid of the militia."

Again with the argument that this is the fault of the US, or more to your point, Bush.

Tell me, o' diplomatic superstar, how would we reach out to the non-Hezbollah Lebanese? What would the likely outcome of our giving aid to one faction of a divided country? Isn't this the "meddling" that anti-Americans decry? We would basically be the motivating force in a civil war. The other alternative is using our own troops to help stabilize the area. Is this your idea of a "priceless window of opportunity"?

>"Instead, Washington just congratulated itself on the elections for internal propaganda purposes, and walked away. It didn't even have the intelligence to pick up a flood of weapons into Lebanon."

Should we have been watching Lebanon's borders? I thought that was Hezbollah's job, along with helping widows of course.

You didn't really think this one out and are just using this as an excuse to bash Bush.

Oh, please
this really isn't complicated.

>Tell me, o' diplomatic superstar, how would we reach out to the non-Hezbollah Lebanese?

By talking to the Lebanese govenrment, and making it clear that the Hezbollah militia was damaging regional stability, while emphasizing the U.N. requirement that it be disbanded. By going to the U.N. and mustering support. By offering extremely aid to Lebanon conditioned on disbanding the militias. By offering advisors to the Lebanese military.

>What would the likely outcome of our giving aid to one faction of a divided country? Isn't this the "meddling" that anti-Americans decry?

It's not "meddling," it's carrying out foreign policy in the interests of the United States

>We would basically be the motivating force in a civil war.

This is a worst case, which is better than what happend.

>The other alternative is using our own troops to help stabilize the area. Is this your idea of a "priceless window of opportunity"?

We may wind up having to do this because of the current activity.

>Should we have been watching Lebanon's borders? I thought that was Hezbollah's job, along with helping widows of course.

We maintain a very large organization call the Central Intelligence Agency to gather information about precisely things like large scale movement of weapons to unfriendly people.

>You didn't really think this one out and are just using this as an excuse to bash Bush.

Bash Bush? Why should a minor thing like an impending war in the Middle East have been a reason to interrupt his bike rides?

total annihilation mission
You fire a rocket at Israel, you die.
You fire a mortar at Israelis, you die.
You fire at an Israeli soldier, you die.

No "scarlet letter" required; just a simple self selection process. If they really want to die to the last man, the Israelis can accommodate them.

Sounds scary, that's not how military operatons work
Particularly operations conducted from the air. You drop bombs, People involved in the hostilities often escape. People not involved are often killed. The history doesn't really show a lot of success for this, particularly over the long term, if you wind up making more enemies than than you kill.

This isnt to say that your enemies trying to kill you shouldn't be killed. The problem is, it's not just a military problem.

Neocons in wonderland
There are opportunities in the middle east. The US gets the chance to see what Iraq as a failed state will look like. We may be able to witness Turkey invading northern Iraq to stop them from supporting Kurdish separatists in eastern Turkey. We may witness Iran annexing Shiite regions of Iraq.

The neocons have not done very well in the driver seat. It's time to take away the keys.

Particularly operations conducted from the air.
Are you advocating an invasion? Or, do you assume that the Lebanese military should do the "clean up" on the ground?

I can't imagine you are suggesting that the Israelis should just sit there and watch the rockets come in. Every approach which has been tried so far has failed. Maybe this one will work, if allowed to proceed to its natural conclusion.

As long as you said please...
>"By talking to the Lebanese govenrment, and making it clear that the Hezbollah militia was damaging regional stability, while emphasizing the U.N. requirement that it be disbanded. By going to the U.N. and mustering support."

Okay. Let's see what you got here: talking to the Lebanese government that has Hezbollah as members, explaining their own situation to them, use the mighty weight of a UN resolution as well as mustering support from them to do... what again?

Is this the same UN that is standing by while Somalia is being over run by Islamofascists? Or the UN that is standing by while Muslims commit genocide in the south of Sudan? Or perhaps you mean the UN that constantly condemns Israel on a weekly basis? THAT UN?

>"By offering extremely aid to Lebanon conditioned on disbanding the militias. By offering advisors to the Lebanese military."

I don't know what "extremely aid" is but it sure do sound potent. In other terms, we would pay Lebanon to disband Hezbollah? So we would pay the Lebanese government, who has active members of Hezbollah as members, to engage in a armed conflict?

As for "advisors", isn't this the process that had so many up in arms during the Reagan years? What would the advisors do? How would you protect them?

>"It's not "meddling," it's carrying out foreign policy in the interests of the United States"

Preaching to the choir. But that is exactly what the outcry would be. Look back at our Central American policy under Reagan to see what I mean. Roy still can't get over it.

>"This is a worst case, which is better than what happend."

A civil war is better than concentrated strikes at Hezbollah? You got yourself a warped measuring stick.

>"We maintain a very large organization call the Central Intelligence Agency to gather information about precisely things like large scale movement of weapons to unfriendly people."

Didn't know you had so much faith in them. So, once we have all this information, what is done with it? Considering that the current government allowed their international airport to be used to bring in the weapons I would say they would look at our evidence and go "Duh!" It is not that they didn't know its that they didn't do anything to stop it. Is this where your "advisors" come into play?

>"Bash Bush? Why should a minor thing like an impending war in the Middle East have been a reason to interrupt his bike rides?"

Yep. No bashing Bush here! I will write this down for when I become President, "No exercise while there is unrest in the Middle East." Must be why Clinton was a porker.

And, the Alternative?
Nobody else has done very well in that drivers seat either. The status quo in the Middle East, and particularly Iraq, was no bed of roses. The sanctions were quickly headed for extinction, with a resurgent Saddam in the offing, but had caused incredible damage to the US reputation in the region by the suffering they caused, and that suffering was used as a rallying cry and recruitment draw for Al Qaeda and other radical groups. Bin Laden's own writings make clear that his primary reasons for declaring jihad against the US centered on the sanctions and the presence of US military in the region to police the cease fire agreement with Saddam.

You and the other moonbat liberals have no viable alternative on offer. The status quo was indefensible.

A dinky enemy
You're right. The "Lebanese", meaning those people belonging to the government in Beirut, are not fighters. They are highly unlikely to get into a beef against either Israel or Hezbollah.

Hezbollah's fighting arm is by many accounts a miniscule and poorly equipped fighting force. They make up for it in pure grit, but they are hardly capable of prevailing in an all out confrontation with Israel's massive, state of the art fighting forces.

I would correct you in one statement. We don't really know to what degree the IDF is "pounding hell" out of Hezbollah. We do know in extensive detail how they are pounding hell out of Lebanon as a whole.

So the terrible H's have vowed to fight to the last man. That could be a short fight, as many observers believe their core fighting units only comprise 500-1,000 men. That they are less than devastating is a given. Today's total casualties at their hands is as follows:

-- 32 Israelis have been killed, among them 17 soldiers, according to Israeli authorities. At least 12 soldiers and 344 civilians have been wounded.

http://sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/c/a/2006/07/21/MNG2QK396D1.DTL&type=printable

I make that eight soldiers killed on the first day, and nine killed over the next nine days. Fifteen civilians killed, including two small children of Israeli Arab parents. This is not exactly a Panzer division rolling across northern Israel.

A strategy for relative success
Since the collapse of the Ottoman Empire, every Western intervention in this area has only made things worse. Also, every pullback has made things worse still.

What to do? I would cut my losses, save a lot of money by withdrawing our troops from the Islamic perimeter, and send them all a postcard wishing them the very best in their endeavors.

After a century, inflamed feelings may cool to the point where dialog is possible.

Competence
The fact that ~1200+ rockets have caused such low casualties suggests that the enemy can't shoot straight. That does not get them a pass.

It is a shame Lebanon didn't deal with these 500-1000 troublemakers years ago.

Good observation
What an appropriate point to make.

You're out of your element, here in the TCS peanut gallery.

Bush bashing wasn;t the object
You may be allowing your ire to get in the way of constructive solutions. I read Gulliver's comment and found it to be instructive and positive, not confrontational or derogatory.

There's heavy-handed diplomacy and then there's deft diplomacy. Where one person might go in there Bolton-style (and I do mean that as a criticism) to bully and threaten the government with regime change, ostracism or sanctions, another approach might well have been that of crafting win-win situations from the recognition of common goals.

This would have involved brokering talks where all three parties sat down at the table: Beirut, Hezbollah and the US as neutral broker. They could hash out their aims in a frank environment to see whether inducements might be found to bring Hezbollah more fully into the game. Offering incentives would not be such a bad approach.

We know that further alienating such groups is counterproductive, and have not scored a victory yet when we've tried that approach. But carrot-oriented diplomacy might have gotten us further in preventing such an impasse as is now unfolding.

I will now stand back and await your heaps of scorn.

Yes, lets give the keys to Neocomms.
The NeoCommunists like you. Rough Equivalent, getting a blind person drunk and asking them to drive cross country.

Funny how you guys like to adopt labels for people you disagree with and wish to vilify.

You want to tell us about the foreign policy successes of recent left wing politicians?

Neocomms not Neocons!
The NeoCommunists like you. Rough Equivalent, getting a blind person drunk and asking them to drive cross country.

Funny how you guys like to adopt labels for people you disagree with and wish to vilify.

You want to tell us about the foreign policy successes of recent left wing politicians?

An Utter Failure
Iraq Update
Stratfor, July 19, 2006

Muqtada al-Sadr has URGED SUPPORT OF HEZBOLLAH in the ongoing Israeli-Lebanon conflict. Depending on how events play out in that sphere, there is the potential for increased disquiet and even violence across the board.

Operation "Together Forward," the 70,000-strong security-force crackdown in Baghdad, is now WIDELY CONSIDERED AN UTTER FAILURE. There is every indication that sectarian violence will continue in the current downward spiral -- it will not be easily arrested. Some sources are now putting the death toll from sectarian attacks at over 100 civilians per day.

A U.N. report compiled statistics putting the civilian death toll at nearly 6,000 for just the months of May and June. The current explosion of sectarian strife has spilled over into almost every walk of life in and around the capital. The al-Rafidain Bank branch in Al Amiriyah in western Baghdad was robbed July 17, and some indications suggest that PEOPLE ARE BEING KILLED FOR BEING IDENTIFIED AS HOMOSEXUAL. When violence reaches this level, feuds, personal disagreements and business rivalries are all increasingly likely to involve the use of force.

...Ar Ramadi remains closed due to ongoing coalition activity, and continues to be the focus of insurgent activity in Anbar province. Violence north of Diyala and Salahad Din remains focused in the ethnically mixed city of Mosul. Violence in the south has surged in northern portions of Babil province, although it appears to be uncoordinated. The bulk of attacks in Basra have reportedly been indirect fire. Outside of Basra, provinces south of Babil remain relatively quiet with some indications of increasing activity in the cities of Al Hillah and An Najaf.

http://www.stratfor.com/products/premium/read_article.php?id=269872

Fight for Mideast Democracy Failing
Fight for Mideast Democracy Failing
by Michael Rubin
American Enterprise Institute (AEI), July 14, 2006

...just last year, the White House condemned the murder of Lebanese writers, it now remains silent as Libyan security agents kidnap and kill journalists. Hezbollah might not have sparked the latest violence had Washington kept up pressure for its disarmament. El-Jahmi is back in prison. At the Palestinian Authority's request, the State Department banned liberal Palestinian activist Issam Abu Issa from the United States after he blew the whistle on corruption.

Not only adversaries get a free pass. In the face of Bush's reversal, U.S. ALLIES WHO ONCE CONSIDERED REFORM NOW ABANDON IT. Take Mubarak: In recent months, his regime has imprisoned the opposition candidate, an arson attack has destroyed the opposition headquarters, Mubarak has canceled municipal elections, and his security forces have arrested judges who dared to complain. Last week, Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh -- who wields absolute power -- reversed his decision to step down and now says he will run again.

Tunisian President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali -- who won his last election with more than 94% of the vote -- has waged a wholesale assault on independent civil society. In the midst of a crackdown on journalists and bloggers, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld visited Tunis to meet Ben Ali. Many Tunisians compare the photo of the meeting to Rumsfeld's 1983 handshake with Saddam Hussein. Iraqi Kurdish leader Masud Barzani now casts democracy aside as he builds a personality cult and TRANSFORMS IRAQI KURDISTAN INTO HIS OWN PERSONAL FIEFDOM. Even in democratic Turkey, the White House remains silent as Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan refuses to implement supreme court rulings that say he has overstepped his power.

That Bush betrays his rhetoric is tragic. While he once spoke of freedom, he now courts those who oppose it. Fighting terror and supporting reform need not be mutually exclusive. Last year Bush promised, "America will stand with the people that desire a free and democratic Iraq." Now his administration talks of withdrawal, leaving those who put their lives on the line for democracy to wither. Just as his father once called on Iraqis to stand up and fight dictatorship only to abandon them to Saddam's gunships, so too does George W. Bush now abandon Arab freedom-seekers, only on a much larger scale and with far more dire consequences for both Middle Eastern democracy and U.S. credibility.

http://www.stratfor.com/products/premium/read_article.php?id=269872

Sorry. Ignorance AND Bush-bashing.
I won't heap scorn upon you.

I will just laugh at the thought of the US sitting down with Lebanon and brokering a deal with Hezbollah, a terrorist organization whose stated goal is the destruction of another democracy, that wishes to impose a theocracy on a multi-religious country, and who is in the pocket of Syrian and Iranian interests. Not to mention that they are responsible for targeting civilians world-wide and love a good suicide bomb.

I am sure such a thing would work great! A good example is the Palestinian response for receiving land, prisoners, and international aid packages in the billions.

Islamofascists have an Arabic word for diplomacy: Weakness.

Gonna go pro!
Maybe he can get a show on PBS too! He has what it takes.

Mainstream dems?
You mean the ones who want to cut and run in Iraq? The ones that gave us the Clinton peace plan for the Middle East and forced the Israelis out of Gaza, those Dems?

Regional war?
Your contention of a regional war is laughable. Any examination of the strength and effectiveness of the Syrian military or the Iranian military reveals such weaknesses that they represent no threat to anyone other than the populations they surpress. If the Syrians suffer attacks from Israel they will do nothing more than respond with tit for tat responses, probably firing a few SCUD missiles because if the Israelis are given the chance for an all out war the currnt Syrian regime will soon be seeking refuge in Cairo or Yemen. The Iranians are in even worse condition lacking the means to attack Israel directly. If their sock puppets in Lebannon are crushed the Lebanese may get back to business and just divide the country between its different mafias.

If the Syrians had any military muscle they wouldn't need teenagers in sneakers to do their dirty work for them.

Lebanon isn't a nation
Its a collection of gangster clans. They are controlled by the Syrians and have been for years. When a state can't control its own borders it wrong to lay th blame on the state. Properly the fault lies with the West which allows Syria to continue to dominate Lebanon and the West which lacks the backbone to do anything except allow the UN to write up another one its wonderful fantasies authored by states such as the PRC, Pakistan and Yemen.

Alternate explanation
"The fact that ~1200+ rockets have caused such low casualties suggests that the enemy can't shoot straight. That does not get them a pass."

It might also be that the intention was to inflict maximum terror while inflicting minimum actual casualties.

No less a terrorist act, but a different strategy.

"It is a shame Lebanon didn't deal with these 500-1000 troublemakers years ago."

It may be that Lebanon sensed these trained and motivated people would not be worth the fight-- in the same way the Americans might have sensed 10-15,000 mujahedeen, loyalists and assorted treoublemakers in Iraq could be capable of causing a fuss the mightiest army on earth couldn't readily quell.

Some times the military solution is just judged by the politicians to be not worth the trouble it would get you into.

Nice comment
One tires of the nonsensical argument that you can reach out to nations that share no coomon ground with you and have agendas that are directly opposed to what you are trying to accomplish either diplomatically or economically.

Clinton's much vaunted Middle Eastern peace lasted for five minutes, despite Clinton making Arafat a permanent resident at the White House. In the same way his out reach to the North Koreans only managed to give North Korea more than any other US aid receipient in the Orient and enable them to build nucler bombs which the North Koreans now rattle in our face,

Hezbollah has always been Iran's sock puppet and what is occuring today is Teheran's demonstration that sanctions or moves against it will mean increased terrorism. Or a form of blackmail. As you correctly point out how do aid a nation that isn't a nation but a collection of mobster clans. Such hubris caused Reagan to attempt to create a nation in Lebanon and brought him to grief. Your points are well taken.

The changed nature of politics
"The 'big bang,' as invading Iraq has sometimes been called, was meant to reorder the nature of politics in the region. This has been accomplished in a fundamental way."

It sure has. 14,000 Iraqis have died so far this year; 6,000 in the last 2 or 3 months, and thousands more injured. Tens of thousands have left the country.

That certainly changed the nature of politics in the region. It's politics by violence on all sides. But the US government calls it "democratic sovereignty". Charming.

You can always identify the non serious among the sheep
Have you ever noticed no matter how hopeless a situation is; no matter the lack of common ground; the complete lack of mutual shared interests; there is always someone out there that advocates diplomatic negotiations?

Its amazing that besides the pinstripe brigades there exists a class of people who think endless negotiations have ever resolved anything and can lead to meaninful solutions.

Yet these same individuals are the first to attack those who point out such talks are both shallow and empty. Remember how the annointed treated Reagan when he walked out of the Iceland talks? For such dunderheads, reults are meaningless, its the symbolism that counts. Small wonder they hate Reagan for demonstrating their policies for what they were and accomplishing what fifty years of UN sponsored talks, negotations, and all night bingo games never came close to accomplishing.

Its also too mcu to expect those who use the smoke screen of negotiations to be ignorant of what they accpomplish or don't/ Carter gave us the Panama cannal treaty and the ABM missile treaties. Clinton gave us yet another of the endless Middle East Peace Plans that only cot the US another 10 billion in danegeld and accomplsihed nothing.
Negotiations and those who call for them look to weaken the US and its allies by taking a position of premptive surrender.

Its the only policy the Left has.

A mind is a terrible thing never to have had
Gee if only Bill Clinton was alive! Oops, maybe we could give billions in aid and nuclear reactors in return for their promise not to build nuclear bombs. You gott a admire that kind of tough real poltik.

Its why Jimmy Carter and Clinton are the favorite US presidents in the PRC, Moscow, Syria, Tehran, and Havana. And how could they be wrong.

Great idea why didn't we do this with Hitler?
The voice of reason speaks again.

Hampton calls for overthrowing mullahs in Tehran!
Yeah Hampton let us know when you join up. We realize how much you oppose those evil mullahs and support democracy. Care you give us another Bible quote?

Sounds familiar
Didn't I see you manning an anti aircaft gun in Hanoi with Jane Fonda?

Free Will or Forced Will?
I do want freedom and democracy in the middle east, but I am not naive. I do not believe that we can march in, topple the government, and then force our vision of a democratic government on the people.

Christians believe in FREE WILL -- that Salvation must be chosen because forced obedience does not reflect the geniune heart of the person. Similarly, the people of Iran, Iraq, etc. have to have an deepn, existing desire to build a free and fair democracy for all of their nation.

The biggest mistake made by the Neo-Conservatives of the Bush Administration was to assume that Iraqi powerbrokers would want a united, egalitarian society. But it is bloodily apparent that the free will of a large portion of Iraqi Sunnis and Shias want dominance, not equality.

Yes when Saddam was killing hundreds of thousands and invading other nations the Left.......
called it acceptable. Different standards for different folks it would seem. Especially if you hate what America stands for. You should be on CNN.

Perhaps
I can see you might be a bit unfamiliar with the way good-faith peace conferences work.

First, you ask each of the belligerent parties what they want.

Then you tell them what they are likely to get and what demands are off the table. You would, for instance, inform Hamas that Israel was not going to just dry up and go away because they wanted it to.

Finally, you tell them what you expect in return for something they want that's in your power to bestow. And you work some form of enforcement and clear consequences into the deal.

Maybe it'll work, maybe it won't. Both sides have to be at the table in good faith, and the broker has to be equally even-handed to both. Otherwise it doesn't work.

Gee I thought we went to war because Saddam violated the cease fire agreement
I agree with you on not imposing democracy on people who neither have the education nor the culture to develop it, but why speak of Massachusetts in such a way? As you say we should not march in a force our beliefs on people who hae unusual and unchristian beliefs such as Berkeley.

As you say people must desire salvation, so it is useless to invoke democracy in the heathen regions populated by the denizens of wild, marauding clans of trial lawyers and aborrtion clinics. Democracy in New York is hopeless when confronted by such unchristian beliefs. especially in the face of those who worship the golden calf and only the heathen idols of secularism and her hand maiden envolution. All pay tribute and prostrate yourself before the sacrements of affirmative action.

To imagine that the denizens of Hollywood would want an egalitarian society any more than those at Brown, Yale or Harvard, why the presumption of the serfs, so of course we have the Neo Marxists advocating a policy of dominace not quality.

And here I thought it was because Saddam vilated the 689th UN resolution warning him to rveal what he had done with his sarin, tabun, mustard, phoscene, and assorted other things he was making at his baby formula factories under the Iraqi brand PEACEFUL LIVING THRU CHEMISTRY.

Well we can always hope for the good old days when Jimmy Carter overthrew aloies of the US to rteplace them with mullahs and the like in Tehran. That truly was the way to go wasn't it Hampton.


Such a great place the neoMarxists have created. If only Jimmy and Slick were still alive.

Standards
So it's who does the mass killing that matters, not that hundreds of thousands are killed or maimed?

And it wasn't "the left" that backed Saddam in his war and domestic violence, it was the Reagan administration, including the architect of the current debacle, von Rumsfeld, who apparently found Saddam's actions "acceptable".

Gee I thought we went to war because Saddam violated the cease fire agreement
I agree with you on not imposing democracy on people who neither have the education nor the culture to develop it, but why speak of Massachusetts in such a way? As you say we should not march in a force our beliefs on people who hae unusual and unchristian beliefs such as Berkeley.

As you say people must desire salvation, so it is useless to invoke democracy in the heathen regions populated by the denizens of wild, marauding clans of trial lawyers and aborrtion clinics. Democracy in New York is hopeless when confronted by such unchristian beliefs. especially in the face of those who worship the golden calf and only the heathen idols of secularism and her hand maiden envolution. All pay tribute and prostrate yourself before the sacrements of affirmative action.

To imagine that the denizens of Hollywood would want an egalitarian society any more than those at Brown, Yale or Harvard, why the presumption of the serfs, so of course we have the Neo Marxists advocating a policy of dominace not quality.

And here I thought it was because Saddam vilated the 689th UN resolution warning him to rveal what he had done with his sarin, tabun, mustard, phoscene, and assorted other things he was making at his baby formula factories under the Iraqi brand PEACEFUL LIVING THRU CHEMISTRY.

Well we can always hope for the good old days when Jimmy Carter overthrew aloies of the US to rteplace them with mullahs and the like in Tehran. That truly was the way to go wasn't it Hampton.


Such a great place the neoMarxists have created. If only Jimmy and Slick were still alive.

A mind is a terrible thing never to have had
Do you really believe Reagan supported Sadaam becayse of his domestic policies or was using him as a counter force against the wonderkids in Tehran.

For 200 and a possible trip to Hanoi lets see if you guess the right answer.

Oh I'd never have guessed, so perhaps you'll recount why the Middle East has never seen peace?
Lack of negotiations right?

The Future President Bush Chose
President Says Saddam Hussein Must Leave Iraq Within 48 Hours
President Bush, March 17, 2003

...We are now acting because the risks of inaction would be far greater. In one year, or five years, the power of Iraq to inflict harm on all free nations would be multiplied many times over. With these capabilities, Saddam Hussein and his terrorist allies could choose the moment of deadly conflict when they are strongest. We choose to meet that threat now, where it arises, before it can appear suddenly in our skies and cities.

...As we enforce the just demands of the world, we will also honor the deepest commitments of our country. Unlike Saddam Hussein, we believe the Iraqi people are deserving and capable of human liberty. And WHEN THE DICTATOR HAS DEPARTED, THEY CAN SET AN EXAMPLE TO ALL THE MIDDLE EAST of a vital and peaceful and self-governing nation.

The United States, with other countries, WILL WORK TO ADVANCE LIBERTY AND PEACE IN THAT REGION. Our goal will not be achieved overnight, but it can come over time. The power and appeal of human liberty is felt in every life and every land. And the greatest power of freedom is to overcome hatred and violence, and turn the creative gifts of men and women to the pursuits of peace.

THAT IS THE FUTURE WE CHOOSE. Free nations have a duty to defend our people by uniting against the violent. And tonight, as we have done before, America and our allies accept that responsibility.

http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2003/03/20030317-7.html

TCS Daily Archives