Bell Curve The Law Talking Guy Raised by Republicans U.S. West
Well, he's kind of had it in for me ever since I accidentally ran over his dog. Actually, replace "accidentally" with "repeatedly," and replace "dog" with "son."

Monday, August 14, 2006

U.S. and Israel: Inconvenient Truth

When the bombing first started in Lebanon, the San Francisco Chronicle reported that the invasion had been in the planning for a while. In a previous post, I also quoted Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage as saying "Hezbollah may be the A-team of terrorists and maybe Al Qaeda is actually the B-team. They're on the list and their time will come. There is no question about it. They have a blood debt to us and we're not going to forget it[referring to the 241 Marines killed back in the 1980's] . It's all in good time." Well, today The Guardian is reporting that the U.S. was working with Israel to plan the whole thing in order to go after Hezbollah. In case you doubt the Guardian, the New Yorker is also publishing Hersh's article in the situation. I haven't seen that version yet.

Sey goes further, and I am not surprised by this either having read his articles on U.S. plans for Iran, and says that officials in the U.S. say Hezbollah as a way to get at Iran. So why LTG doesn't like the proxy war theory, I am afraid that it has even have more support now than before.

This doesn't surprise me at all. But I think it is worth mentioning because it explains why the U.S. was slow to negotiate a cease fire and why the cease fire that was negotiated still allows Israel to attack.

BTW: It has come to a strange time when MS Word spell check can identify a misspelling of Hezbollah without by having taught it to do so.


Anonymous said...

It doesn't surprise me at all that the US helped plan the attack on Hezbollah. Nor does it surprise me that the US sees Hezbollah as a proxy for Iran.

The real questions are 1) Is Lebanon, the region and the world better off with or without a strongly armed Hezbollah? and 2) If the answer to question 1 is "without" (and it most certainly must be) what is the most effective way to achieve that goal?

Certainly, this "shock and awe" style attack was poorly matched to what is ultimately a political problem. I've heard reports that Olmert is in deep political doodoo with the Israeli public for engaging in a war with such poorly matched political and military objectives.

In possibly related news, Bush's approval ratings are stuck in the mid 30s despite the resent terror alert and a plurality of Americans think he is doing a poor job of handling the crisis (crises!) in the Middle East.  

// posted by RBR

Anonymous said...

It surprises me that Israel would go along with a charade of pretending to retaliate for two kidnapped soldiers, instead of that being a pretext. Israel has been much more practical in its foreign policy over the years, rarely pursuing the sort of ideological dreaming of the Bush dministration (with the exceptino, of course, of Zionism itself). 

// posted by LTG

Anonymous said...

I'm not so sure this goal of eliminating Hezbollah as pseudo-state isn't a good idea for Isreal. They have peace with Egypt and Jordan. Aside from the Palestinian Authority, they are only under immediate threat from their Northern border. Even there if the Lebanonese government actually governed within its territory, Israel could get peace on much of that border as well.

Taking on Syria itself is probably off the table for Israel but Hezbollah is the greatest impediment to full sovereignty for Lebanon.

Regardless of the competing claims to victory going on now, if the Lebanonese government can establish itself as the sovereign authority in the entirity of Lebanon, Israel will be better off. So will the Lebanonese people by the way.

That said, Israel could have achieved that goal with a military strategy better matched to the political goal - a strategy less dependent on strategic bombing of "infrastructure." 

// posted by Raised By Republicans

Anonymous said...

Let's see - Israeli forces, pretext, cooperating with a Western power, invasion of neighbor...
Shades of Suez?  

// posted by LTG

Anonymous said...

FYI, at least 1150 Lebanese civilians are not better off. I don't know why our politicians cavalierly approve of the murder of hundreds of innocent people as if it were irrelevant in foreign policy. It should not be.

Anonymous said...

There is more to the story. You should read this   as well. I guess the battle is still raging within the Pentagon over Iran. And watch U.S. policy toward Turkey. That is decoming more interesting by the day as well.

I agree with Anonymous. However, I totally understand RBR's point. But when I think about it, I am skpetical. Hezbollah is an effective and dangerous operation with what appeared to be highly trained forces. The Lebanese government had become somewhat dependant upon it. At the same time, Seniora was working on a strategy of his own to deal with Hezbollah. He added Hezbollah to his cabinet in the hopes that by giving them a legitmate political voice, they'd be less militant and eventually disarm their militias. That, unfortunately, takes time. Look how long it took Sinn Fein. Israel's shelling didn't make things any easier or faster.

In fact, Israel should know by now that strong arm tactics don't destroy these groups, but rather give them more reason to exist and more conviction. It always ends up beging a cat and mouse game. What makes people forget about violence is prosperity and order. Lebanon was just getting back on its feet, heading into the biggest tourtist season since the the end of the civil war. Now, Hezbollah, weakened but far from dead, will help people rebuild. It will start to have clashes with Lebanese and possibly international forces. That coupled with the displaced refugees that have nowhere to go may give rise to more sectarian tensions. Everyone I heard interviewed today said they doubted the cease fire would hold.

So I think, RBR, the jury is still out on what may or may not have been better for the Lebanese people. Now doubt, getting rid of Hezbollah may be great for Israel, and even the U.S.. But for the longer term stability of Lebanon, we may have to wait and see. I, myself, am skpetical. 

// posted by USwest

Anonymous said...

I was significantly misunderstood by both Anonymous and US West. I was NOT saying that the war itself was good for anyone! I was saying that getting rid of Hezbollah as a pseudo-state would be good for just about everyone.

I also said it would have been more effective to get rid of them in a way that didn't involve the indiscriminent bombing of civilian residential areas, roads, bridges etc. (i.e. "infrastructure").

I think the Israelis and Americans should have worked with the Lebanonese government. Of course the problem there is that they Lebanonese government includes Hezbollah so there's not exactlly a secure line for that phone call.

And I'm not sure that the goal of the Lebanonese moderates was to get Hezbollah to disarm in any reasonable amount of time. I think they were rather trying to give Hezbollah enough of a stake in the status quo that they wouldn't start a civil war on behalf of the recently expelled Syrian forces.

If the UN and Lebanonese army can really supress Hezbollah, it will be a great event for everyone involved. I fear that it would take a long and nasty little counter-insurgency war to do it and that is probably something that the UN and Lebanonese government can't do.

So in the end, Israel has succeeded only stirring up support for Hezbollah while only giving them a temporary set back. Foolish, and costly. 

// posted by Raised By Republicans

Anonymous said...

Point taken RBR. Thanks for the clarification.

The other thing that really bugs me are reports about "who won". That is so stupid. War is rarely a zero sum game. And a cease fire does not end the "war". It just puts it on pause for a while. I expect Hezbollah to run around declaring victory. All they had to do to "win" was to survive. And that is part of the their propoganda. I even expect Israel to declare it "won", although their initial goal was to destory Hezbollah, which they did not. They later changed their goal to "weakening' Hezbollah. Well, they did do that. So it seems both groups "won".

But when the President of the U.S. is asked "who won", the wise thing is to side step the question. Instead, he jumps int eh ring with "Israel". That, to me, is unacceptable. War isn't a game.

One other thing to watch carefully is how easily journalists are now mixing Iraq into the "war on terror". NPR's Cokie Roberts even did it yesterday. IRAQ WAS NOT PART OF A WAR ON TERROR! Don't let them slip by with that. It would mean the Administration succeeded in framing the issue of Iraq its own way! 

// posted by USWest

Anonymous said...

US WEst, I totally agree with you about how Bush should respond to the idiotic question of "who won?"

There are two things about war that Bush et al seem to completely ignore. First, it is sloppy and deadly at the same time. That is, lots of people get killed and they're often not the people intended to be in the line of fire. Second, outcomes are not fully predictable so starting a war is always some form of coin flip or lottery. It's almost never a good idea if the status quo is in your favor. That's because why take the chance of losing your advantage - which is exactly what Israel (and the US in Iraq) risked doing.  

// posted by Raised By Republicans

Dr. Strangelove said...

Let me propose a somewhat different interpretation of what Seymour Hersh has learned.

Was Israel's invasion of Lebanon planned ahead of time? Of course. The Israeli military would have been severely negligent not to have drawn up contingency plans to deal with Hizbollah. These plans surely would have been updated as new intelligence became available--and with Hizbollah's recent acquisition of more rockets and military assistance from Syria and Iran, no doubt they updated them regularly and raised their level of alert several notches. I am not surprised that a handful of high-ranking officials quietly asked the U.S. how far they would be supported--such information is vital to the making of war plans in the Middle East (and this is the extent of U.S. involvement that the Guardian reported, I believe.)

Was the seizure of the Israeli soldiers a "pretext" for the invasion? Perhaps. But is not equally likely that it was the catalyst? The Israeli civilian and military leadership saw Hizbollah's increasingly aggressive stance as a real threat. The kidnapping was a sign that Hizbollah was moving things to a new level. Perhaps Olmert decided they just could not permit things to escalate further without taking action, so they implemented their existing plan quickly.

Was it a bad decision on Israel's part? I think so. But implementing an existing plan on which one has worked with one's allies is a far cry from the conspiracy-theory interpretation Hersh seems to be peddling.

Anonymous said...

For starters, this is just one article in a string from Hersh. The part that strikes me as interesting is the Iran link. The idea that the U.S. was pleased to let Irael do in Hezbollah as a means of clearing the brush for our future plans for Iran.

I don't doubt what you say Dr. S. But I don't think Hersh is planting conspiracy theories. I think he is bringing into the open what a lot of us supsect. Granted, he is doing it with unnamed sources. But since his track record is well established, I don't worry so much.

What was also interesting was Chomsky's interview with NPR's Open Source  where he says that that Nasrallah told him that if the Palestinians agree that Isreal is legitimate, then they will agree as well. Well, Chomsky met with Nasrallah in 2003, before Hamas took over in the Territories. I find this claim of Nasrallah's hard to beleive. The Palestinians have worked off the premise of a 2 state solution (thus acccepting Israel) for years! But he is definately linking Hezbollah to Hamas, or at least the Palestinain leadership.

Both guests last night also supported the media reports that place Iranian agents, special forces, or at least those trained by these types in Iraq from the start of the war. 

// posted by USwest