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27 July 2006


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I guess Halutz has only a few day's left in his job. Fine with me. Airman, good as they come, should never lead ground forces into battle. (Maybe Boyd could have.)

But one also should never underestimate the power of local politics in all this.

The wrangling for the next Israeli administration did already begin. Who presents himself as strong and who as weak ect.

Then there are such "unrelated" issues like this one.

At 17:58 local time today JPost reported that the testiment in a sexual harressment case against Justice Minister Ramon appears reliable.

At 18:22 it reports that Ramon calls for all out bombing of South Lebanon.

Politics ...

W. Patrick Lang


That would work for me. Citation?

Of course there is always "Smiling Al" Kesselring to think of. pl

john in LA

My neocon friends -- hot with the fight and eager to punish "Arabs" (and making no distinction between Sheikhs and starving Shia/Palestinians)want capitulation.

There is something rather unhealthy here -- they want submission, surrender, humiliation. They seem to believe (!) that by "punishing" Lebanon the country, its national government will whip together a secular/professional Sunni/Christian Army that can march into Southern Lebanon and subdue the Shia.

But these Shia seem tough. And we have to remember that, after being crapped on for centuries, the Shia Arabs feel that this is their moment. They have a government in Iraq. Iraq! They have a quasi-government in Lebanon.

And they have a patron in Iran. So this is very much their opportunity to hang tough and etc. They'll make the IDF pay for every inch -- and then they'll cede it and, upon withdrawal, take it back.

In so doing they will drive the Israelis crazy. And, perhaps more importantly, they will demonstrate their "props" to their neighboring Sunni.

What a wiered, inarticulate policy for the United States -- to simultaneously hand one of the world's largest oil fields to a Shia government in Iraq, and then facilitate the Israeli slaughter of a weak, mostly defenseless Shia slum population in South Beirut.

Next step: my bet is that the Shia in Iraq make their move -- either take on the American supply train in Basra, or simply demand that the US begin their drawdown.

And leave them, in partnership with the Kurds, to wrap up their Sunni problem.


I find it very interesting that the Israeli cabinet was at pains today to signal that there would be no attack on Syria and that everything should be done to avoid Syria getting dragged into the conflict.

Is this part of the Condi?/Cheney? strategy to try and peel off Syria from the Iranian orbit?

And does the reported meeting between Nasrallah and Assad today in Damascus mean that Bush's on-mike comment to get Assad to get Hizballah to stop this shit working?

Is this the opportunity for Syria and Hizballah to name their price and find a face-saving (on a PR basis) agreement for Bush to claim that he brokered the deal and is a man of peace in time for the Nov election?


I have to dissent with your Kesselring comment.

First joining the Imperial Prussian Army in 1904, he then joined the Royal Bavarian Army in 1905 and was trained as a balloon artillery observer. He served during WW-I as a staff officer with the Bavarian artillery. Kesselring knew ground war well.

In the Weimar years he served in the Reichswehr, also in artillery functions, becoming battery commander in 1919, serving on in various staff functions. Only in 1933 he was eventually tasked with helping build the new Luftwaffe.

Kesselring was not so much the airman who understood ground war but an artillery officer who understood air war and loved to fly. IMO the emphasis is important ;)


@pl Citation?

Not sure what you are asking for.

On the airman, ground force thoughts I have none. Just my (reality based) opinion as a former tank officer.

On Israeli cabinet shuffling there were some opeds in called for a "unity" cabinet (meaning a more pure neocon/likud cabinet) and quite some crizisim on Olmert from peacenik camps.

(fun detail: Olmert's daughter protesting in front of Halutz' house.)

My impression: If Olmert Peretz want to survive this politicaly, they will have to send Halutz into retirement - and fast.

On the conflict as such:

Both sides could escalate now, but it looks like neither side wants.

Olmert does not want to widen the conflict as the IDF (i.e. Rumsfeld) wants to. There is nothing to gain but much to lose.

Nasrallah is in talks with Syrian and Iranian folks in Damascus and I bet they will argue to NOT shoot rockets into Tel Aviv. Nasrallah could do so, but he has no interests in doing so - neither have his sponsors.


Second thought: If anything in the US military is capable of 'producing' someone with a comparable experience like Kesselring's, then it's the Marine Corps, having both air force and artillery components.

The only problem might be that esprit de corps (quite literally) prevents people from considering ... 'Flying? Sir, no, Sir! I'm in the mud proudly, Sir!'. Or so.


At least Kesselring could mount a halfway decent defense on the ground.


I think it means, at the 100K ft view, that the IDF has met its Buster Douglas.

This does not bode well for anyone interested in 'peace'.


Any guesses on when we will hear Halutz's voice on crackly radio transmissions as he mutters about snails and knives and assassins accusing assassins?

Airheads just don't understand ground conflict. Never have, never will.


John Howley

Discussions of the endgame all seem to involve some sort of international force, possibly U.S.-led.
Perhaps you can provide some perspective on the idea of U.S. forces becoming directly involved, on the ground, in the protection of Israel.
Have U.S. troops ever been deployed for this purpose? If not, why not?


Let me recommend Billmon's take on the emotional side of the issue. I agree with him.

W. Patrick Lang


A+. There were a few more went over to the Luftwaffe on orders, and a few offciers from the Heer who went to the Waffen SS on their own hook looking for promotion. I hope they were happy with the result. PL

W. Patrick Lang

Bad Tux

Why do I visualize you as the Romanian literatus who used to do a journal in New Orleans called something like "Diseased Lotus" or something?

"on crackly radio transmissions as he mutters about snails and knives and assassins accusing assassins.."

Wondrous. What is it? My favorite (current) thing like that is that is "dancing in chains." I am thinking of changing the name of the blog to that. pl



Any thoughts on the impact of the reserve mobilization on the Israeli economy? Is this a significant number and if so, how long can Israel sustain the cost?


"This last represents the influence of the ground force guys who know that IDF soldiers are not trained to participate in prolonged fighting."

This is what happens when your state-of-the-art blitzkrieg army becomes a relic of a past century.


There certainly seems to be a whiff of panic in the air -- but this is a helluva way to beat a sexual harassment accusation!

Ramon has asserted that the Rome time-wasting stunt by the US SoS gave a "green light" to the Israeli adventure but "Finnish Foreign Minister Erkki Tumioja, whose country currently holds the EU presidency, said the Israeli government's interpretation of the summit's declaration as permission to continue its offensive is 'their own and wrong interpretation'."


Chances of EU/NATO involvement in the imbroglio have diminished further I imagine.

Look out for another sticky Rice stunt soonest - am I the only one that found the grins and joshing and cake eating during the SoS's Israel meeting eerily discordant - and it certainly played badly in the Dubai news broadcast I saw when juxtaposed with the carnage in Lebanon and Gaza.

Did you see the Daniel Gilbert NYT piece which has some interesting (and familiar) takes on the nature of conflict:

"The researcher began the game by exerting a fixed amount of pressure on the first volunteer’s finger. The first volunteer was then asked to exert precisely the same amount of pressure on the second volunteer’s finger. The second volunteer was then asked to exert the same amount of pressure on the first volunteer’s finger. And so on. The two volunteers took turns applying equal amounts of pressure to each other’s fingers while the researchers measured the actual amount of pressure they applied.

"The results were striking. Although volunteers tried to respond to each other’s touches with equal force, they typically responded with about 40 percent more force than they had just experienced. Each time a volunteer was touched, he touched back harder, which led the other volunteer to touch back even harder. What began as a game of soft touches quickly became a game of moderate pokes and then hard prods, even though both volunteers were doing their level best to respond in kind.

"Each volunteer was convinced that he was responding with equal force and that for some reason the other volunteer was escalating. Neither realized that the escalation was the natural byproduct of a neurological quirk that causes the pain we receive to seem more painful than the pain we produce, so we usually give more pain than we have received.

"Research teaches us that our reasons and our pains are more palpable, more obvious and real, than are the reasons and pains of others. This leads to the escalation of mutual harm, to the illusion that others are solely responsible for it and to the belief that our actions are justifiable responses to theirs.

"None of this is to deny the roles that hatred, intolerance, avarice and deceit play in human conflict. It is simply to say that basic principles of human psychology are important ingredients in this miserable stew. Until we learn to stop trusting everything our brains tell us about others — and to start trusting others themselves — there will continue to be tears and recriminations in the wayback."


We see examples of this (and probably perpetrate them) every day - "this miserable stew" seems a fine summary of many conflict-ridden situations but if you are a superpower (or have a blank cheque/check from one) your misapprehension of your own victimhood and what you do next can be catastrophic and may help to explain the shrillness of some of thearguments to escalate just about any conflict since "failure is not an option".

Escalation is hard-wired into us - and must be managed.


Regarding U.S. forces in Lebanon: Been there, done that, got the bleep outta there after the nascent Hizbullah blew a couple hundred Marines into rubble. Somehow I cannot see the results being different if Dear Leader sends them back in today.

As for the snails and knives and assassins thing: Scene from "Apocalypse Now", near the beginning:

"This was monitored out of Cambodia. This has been verified as Colonel Kurtz's voice."

" I watched a snail crawl along the edge of a straight razor. That's my dream. That's my nightmare. Crawling, slithering, along the edge of a straight razor, and surviving. "

"11th transmission, December 30th, 0500 hours, sector KZK."

KURTZ (on tape)
" We must kill them. We must incinerate them. Pig after pig, cow after cow, village after village, army after army. And they call me an assassin. What do you call it when the assassins accuse the assassin ? They lie.. they lie and we have to be merciful for those who lie. Those nabobs. I hate them. How I hate them..."

Halutz and his game plan are appearing increasingly unhinged as every day unfolds. How long before he cracks entirely? I suspect that the person who says Halutz has three days max is close to correct.


W. Patrick Lang


It is bound to be profound. This is a major mobilization, probably 4 division equivalents so far. Combined with the shut-down of tourism, etc. this is bound to be bad economically and the US will pay for it one way or the other. pl


"Halutz and his game plan are appearing increasingly unhinged as every day unfolds. How long before he cracks entirely?" - BT

Add that to the "sexual harrasment" thingy of Justice Minister Ramon now calling to flatten villages in southern Lebanon before IDF forces enter.

Hopefully those with their hands on the buttons in Israel do not get so completely unhinged with rage at their war plan not going on plan that they act out genocide in southern Lebanon. Hezbollah as a guerilla force will move out of the way of those bombs but those least able to - women and children will be the unfortunate statistics.

I believe that all sides want cessation of hostilities now and are working behind the scenes to come up with a face saving deal that appeals to their domestic politics.

John in Los Angeles

Wouldn't an international force just be what the French call a "tampon" to cover the Israeli withdrawal after they've finished whatever they are going to do?

And when they talk about this ingterpositional force being "robust" and ready to "fight" -- well, they aren't talking about shooting south are they?

So what Army would like to ally with Israel in a shooting war on indigenous Shia-stan in South Lebanon?

Motive? Means? Opportunity?


My suspicion, BTW, is that the callup is to free up regular army divisions to go into Lebanon. As I noted earlier, the IDF does not appear to have entered Lebanon with anything resembling overwhelming force. More a reinforced infantry battalion than anything else, if I'm reading between the lines correctly. Apparently this strategy's failure has now been acknowledge and Israel is preparing to enter Lebanon in force, replacing regular divisions on other borders with reservists and shifting the regular divisions to Lebanon.

In short, Israel is shifting strategies because Halutz's original strategy has proven utterly useless. Pounding southern Lebanon with air power and artillery has not stopped the rockets from flying and the light force sent in has been unable to secure the two small towns they announced as being "conquered" only two days ago. My suspicion is a heavy invasion, announcement of victory, then withdrawal while touting how they'd beaten Hizballah (which of course will simply step out of the way of the Israelis). Nothing accomplished, except the destruction of Lebanon as a viable state, which surely could not have been Israel's plan... or could it?



"Any thoughts on the impact of the reserve mobilization on the Israeli economy? Is this a significant number and if so, how long can Israel sustain the cost?"

I'm told the BIG financial problem is the virtual shutdown of the economy in the North. Even more than most Americans, most Israelis live paycheck to paycheck. When those paychecks stop coming, the state (Israel is still a semi-socialist welfare state) has to replace them. This could quickly run into the billions of shekals if the rocketing isn't stopped.


Halutz: "We paid dearly, but so did Hezbollah"

Not a good headline for cheerleaders!

I found it interesting that in today's reserve callup announcement the Israelis stated they will go to training initially. It would imply that the Israeli's feel they do not have adequate standing ground forces for their plans possibly for a ground invasion. Looks like then the on-the-ground situation for the immediate future is stalemate with Israel air and artillery fire power pounding away at Lebanon with "news" reports of targets hits and mostly ineffectual rocket fire from the Hizbs.

W. Patrick Lang


As you know they don't have "regulars." The IDF was built on the Hagganah model which was derived from Kibbutznik experience of the Tsar's army.

The Imperial Russian Army had no career enlisted men and neither does the IDF except for technicians and a small group of trainers. They make enlisted leaders out of each conscript class. So that Sergeants major and privates were drafted together. Officer candidates are picked out of the same stream. Some are kept after a couple of years and become Halutz.

This is about as different from out army as could be imagined.

As a result their active units are made up of draftees and officers. Some of the officers are career people.

This is not a professional force. pl

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