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13 August 2006

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Matthew

At least Abrams is consistent. Compared to Iraq, Lebanon is a "victory."

G. Wilson

Certainly makes sense to me. As the following link shows, it seems the Israelis have only made their situation worse.

http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/archives/individual/2006_08/009333.php

Rex Brynen

Lubnani is quite right.

Moreover, while the "religious divisions in Lebanon" graphic is cute, it understimates the Shi'ite population (closer to 35% than 27%, I would think), and overestimates the Maronite population (probably closer to 22% than 29%). The CIA publicly puts the Mulsim (Shi'iite/Sunni/Druze/Alawi) population at 60%, the Christian (Maronite/Greek Orthodox/Greek Catholic/other) population at 40% (https://www.cia.gov/cia/publications/factbook/geos/le.html).

Lebanon's old conscription and exemption system (modified in 2005, I believe, and due to be phased out) tended to slightly over-recruit Shiite rank-and-file, so it wouldn't be bad guess to suggest that 35-40% of the army are Shi'ite, and probably 50-75% of those would be sympathetic to Hizbullah. Its hard to imagine they'll be very energetic in going after a Hizbullah armed presence.

That having been said, there is a world of difference between stowing some AKs (or even mortars or TOWs) in your basement, and hiding vehicle-mounted multiple rocket launchers. There Hizb may have somewhat more trouble maintaining or rebuilding its firepower.

(OK, 3 posts in as many days--I'll stop now!)

zanzibar

A question for those more knowledgeable about Lebanese domestic politics:

Why did HA accept the language of the UN resolution that blames them for the conflict?

Ferdinand

I like the image accompanying this latest post: A graphic depiction of Lebanon's religious diversity, with no single group large enough to constitute a clear majority.

The consensus seems to be that the imminent ceasefire will, at best, only postpone further fighting.

confusedponderer

I vote for the restaurant being in Beirut downtown.

It's like an abyss opened and the ghosts from 1914 came up and took over the cold war zombies of D.C. on 9/11 ... 'War is a legitimate tool of statecraft', 'treaties are scraps of paper' and 'Might makes right' ... deja vu all over again. Iirc America strung up a considerable number of Germans for that line of thinking.

But that's ancient history, right?

Or they have second thoughts: I imagine Gonzales' fondly remembering von Keitel's ideas on the Geneva Convention: 'Hehe, quaint and obsolete! Just my kind of guy!' One could argue that with such guys still around in Old Europe, Bushistan could indeed find many more likeminded allies there. What a pity.

No, that was nasty. The real problem with these people is that they think they can afford ignoring the rules because they are the goodly good guys, the actors of history, and that in the end we will thank them all. They have to drag us kicking and screaming for our own good, because we benighted weenies just don't get it.

Because they know it all, already, and best anyway, they have no use for a reality check.

PointedHead

patrick - your website is excellent. outstanding, insightful commentary. glad to have found you!

W. Patrick Lang

Norbert

Was Keital a von? I always have thought of him as plain old "Lakeital."

His name and that of Myers, the last CJCS are linked in my mind. Both so tall, so blond, so empty headed..

pl

confusedponderer

Ah you got me, just Keitel. 'Lakaitel' for his lack of spine and total obedience. Just a lackey.

W. Patrick Lang

CP

Yeah, and not even a Prussian. I was looking at the Wiki on him and the picture shows him wearing his NSDAP pin on his uniform, another disgrace. pl

ikonoklast

"... open a restaurant together, somewhere ..."

The Marianas Trench? As the old joke goes, it's a start.

canuck

http://www.correntewire.com/clusterfuck_alypse_now_hersh_lebanon_war_a_demo_for_iran>Hersh at the New Yorker

While he doesn’t point out Hassan’s strengths, the Middle East will be forever changed by Israel’s inability to win in Lebanon.

Listen to http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=5569877> Growing Shiite Power Worries Arab Leaders

Hassan’s style of government would be enough to make Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Egypt shake in their boots. If Iran is listening closely, they’ll adopt Hassan’s style, reduce the power of the Mullahs and give the style of government Lebanese Hizbullah represents. It’s a combination of Sunni and Shiites that empowers their citizenry and gives them services in addition to a military.

It won’t be Bush’s New Middle East. If Israel is smart, they will make peace and not war with their new adversary.

Lebanon isn’t a theocracy, nor authoritarian. So far it has been able to restrain both which is bad news for the Old Middle East who presently have peace agreements with Israel.

Lee A. Arnold

Col. Lang, I wonder if you have an opinion on Col. Hammes' book, The Sling and the Stone.

It seems to me there's a way to win this war, and it may start with thinking a little more like Mao.

cynic librarian

confused writes:

The real problem with these people is that they think they can afford ignoring the rules because they are the goodly good guys, the actors of history, and that in the end we will thank them all. They have to drag us kicking and screaming for our own good, because we benighted weenies just don't get it.

I think you miss the point of the neocon plan for reforming America. The military ethos promoted by them is supposed to counter a perceived decay in American culture.

Take a look at this artilce, wherein neocons see the "war on terror" as a chance to renew America via a virtue with its source in sacrifice and discipline incurred during time of war:

Immediately following 9/11, intellectuals, politicians, and pundits—not those of the radical Left, as is often claimed, but mainstream liberals and conservatives—seized upon the terrorist strikes as a deliverance from the miasma Buckley and Kristol had been criticizing. The World Trade Center was still on fire and the bodies entombed there still being recovered when Frank Rich announced in The New York Times that "this week's nightmare, it's now clear, has awakened us from a frivolous if not decadent decadelong dream." What was that dream? The dream of prosperity, of surmounting life's obstacles with money. During the 1990s, David Brooks wrote in Newsweek, we "renovated our kitchens, refurbished our home entertainment systems, invested in patio furniture, Jacuzzis and gas grills." This ethos had terrible domestic consequences. It encouraged "self-indulgent behaviour," wrote Francis Fukuyama in The Financial Times, and a "preoccupation with one's own petty affairs." It also had international repercussions. According to the Bush administration official Lewis Libby, the cult of peace and prosperity found its purest expression in Bill Clinton's weak and distracted foreign policy, which made "it easier for someone like Osama bin Laden to rise up and say credibly, ‘The Americans don't have the stomach to defend themselves. They won't take casualties to defend their interests. They are morally weak.'"

canuck

Oops, correction the correct link directly to the Hersh article is: http://www.newyorker.com/printables/fact/060821fa_fact>The New Yorker

julie

Mr Brynen:

I doubt if most of the rockets are fired from "vehicle mounted launchers."

They can be, but these are the same rockets that the Vietnamese used which can be fired with makeshift launchers.

Just hide some in a cave, get some big pieces of wood and some friends to drag them out. set them off and run.

W. Patrick Lang

Lee

I have not read it. I seldom read "modern" books on counterinsurgency. pl

Montag

I'm just anal retentive enough to correct you, Pat. Actually, it was the German Chancellor, Theobold von Bethmann-Hollweg--when the British Ambassador, Sir Edward Goschen presented their ultimatum to retreat from Belgium OR ELSE. BH became very agitated, because he understood that Belgium wasn't the real issue, but merely the tripwire for British support of its allies, France and Russia--which was entirely true, by the way. His indignation caused BH to launch a harangue containing the fatal words. He said that England would be responsible for all the dreadful events that might follow, and "all for just a word--'neutrality'--just for a scrap of paper...."

OOPSIE! Goschen included the phrase in his report without realizing how it would sound when taken out of context. But of course the British propagandists made the most of it.

On Lebanon, not only has the government refused to hold a census since Independence, but they even had kittens when some geneticists wanted to see how much Phoenician DNA was in the Lebanese population, since the result might be dangerously divisive. They sampled DNA in the seaports from all segments of the Lebanese population and found that 100%, regardless of religion or ethnicity, carried Phoenician DNA. But they were shocked to discover that the Lebanese carried DNA from the original Canaanites through the Phoenicians, because they had thought that the Phoenicians had arrived by sea, displacing the Canaanites. Instead, the Phoenicians were Canaanites themselves. Of course the result was very reassuring to the Lebanese government, because it was proof (as if the Lebanese ever needed any) of their distinct Lebanese character and not a cause for discord.

jonst

Ok, one man’s view of this stuff. Painting with a very, very broad, and Western oriented brush, an keeping at the forefront of your mind, the, how shall we say, fluid nature, of alliances in Lebanon we back up to last year, at approx this time. Maybe a bit earlier, in the Spring of 2005 We had then, with regard to Lebanon, anyway, the Sunnis, Druze, Christian, (with the exception of Anoun) French, Americans, and Israeli all roughly, on the same side on one or two issues. i.e., A desire to keep Syria out of Lebanon as an occupier. And two, a desire to reduce the power of Syria’s main ally in Lebanon, Hizballah.

So now…assuming the other factions have not come to detest and distrust Israel (perhaps even more than they did before) in the wake of attacks on Lebanon, if the outside force goes in you may simply see the sides being drawn for a new war. This time expanded to include direct attacks on Syria. That’s my take on what Cheney et al are up. What game the French are playing is going to be interesting to ascertain. But I repeat…to me, it seems the sides are being drawn for the next stage of the conflict.

Babak Makkinejad

canuck:

There used to be a joke about the Soviet Union that how it would still be a one party state even if there were free elections; every one would be in the opposition party!

I suspect the same might hold true for ME to a large extend. My guess is that giving free elections; reiligious parties will win across the board in the Maghreb, Levant, and the Persian Gulf. The exception being Iran in which non-religious parties will win.

MarcLord

cynic librarian:

Excellent selection of neo-con lore, thanks for bringing the article up. Which it really nails the post-Weimar miasma that hangs over almost everything the Bush Administration does. I've long suspected Karl Rove studied that time in history very deeply, and Leo Strauss and his acolytes overpoweringly exude its unmistakeable, nauseating smell with every perverse word they emit. It's the political equivalent of gas gangrene. Yes, that which cannot be named has returned, and it is here.

For those who have also studied the means, motive, and method of that seizure of power, here is a lesson worth remembering: despite the advantage of an unrivalled military ethos, Germany lost WWII because Nazi ideology was racist, hermeticist, and full of shit, so it could not co-opt conquered lands or peoples into supporting its visions. The Bush Adminstration, and most unfortunately, our country, now have a very similar problem.

W. Patrick Lang

Montag

Thanks. I was too lazy to check. pat

confusedponderer

librarian,
I'm aware of it, and I see that they work in synergy with christian right and the 'unitary executive' folks on that. Three independent streams, independent goals, common ground. I don't like it, in fact I find it dangerous. I interprete it as a fascist tendency. But to mobilise America to resist this tendency this stuff is IMO simply too outlandish. What's wrong about 'virtue' 'sacrifice' 'freedom' ...?

I think America will be able to deal with that sooner, probably later, when the 'Leidensdruck' is strong enough. That means more casualties, higher costs, eventually undeniable signs of failure etc. Then the neo-cons will be purged and, like herpes to the nerve ganglia, withdraw to the think tanks, law firms, jails and universities to re-emerge in a time of weakness with great fanfare.

So aside of their idea of changing America, their fumbling of foreign policy is what atm concerns me most. Look at Mr. Abrams - he and his ilk are just brilliant at plotting and instigating war, death and destruction in order to conjure up the cleansing fires of chaos to bring upon creative destruction over the Middle East - to change it to the better, conincidentally in accordance with what they see as American interests. The seeds of misery and hatred these pompous fools lay will haunt all of us for decades to come.

Before America goes down the drain, it'll probably be bankrupt. So be happy, America will rather be like Argentina in the 1990s, rather than like Russia in the 1990s. Considering all this grandiose babble about 'space dominance', 'information dominance', 'preventing the rise of a(ny) near term competitor', 'global dominance' etc. it maybe that America needs to rediscover that humility is healthy and self-restraint a strategic asset.

He who is strong and knows it, doesn't throw his weight around. He doesn't have to. Under Bush and since 911, America is almost hyperactive in this respect. When Madeleine Albright felt she had to remind Europe that America is the indispensable nation it became overly clear that this in fact was in question. Bush and his clowns have only underlined the questionmarks.

Ghostman

1. I agree with many here, UN 1701 is a joke. I call it the "finger-pointing" resolution. Israel and Hizb will continue warfare; each pointing the finger at the other's acts to justify its own acts.

2. I haven't seen any video of these UN troops gearing up, loading transport ships, their advance personnel flying into Beirut? Guess they're not in too big a hurry?

3. Just what does the IDF intend to do, movement-wise, when this cease-fire hour arrives? Hold in positions? Seems like that only makes the IDF even bigger targets for Hizb. Does the IDF intend to continue to move in force to the north? And do this while UN relief vehicles try to move in force to the south? What a mess. Or perhaps the IDF intends to maintain movement, but to pockets of resistance. Then even more pitched battles shall ensue post cease-fire...all to the political and military hardship of Israel. However the IDF decides to "stay" in this area (hunkered down or in movement)...those troops will need some food, their rifles need more ammo, and those tanks need fuel. Mr. Bad Tux writes of kill boxes for tanks. I imagine fuel and supply trucks would fare a whole lot worse.

Ghostman

Patrick Henry

Col. Lang..

I agree with this
evaluation and your comments..Nothing has changed..

End result has been lots of infrastucture Destruction in Lebanon..alot of civilian collateral death
from Heavy Bombing..in an effort to try to kill one or two Hezbollah...who operate (Fire Rockets) from Civilian areas..Knowing that the Israels are damned if they do damned if they dont take the Launchers out..

I think there was alot of over`reaction..EXCESSS DESTRUCTION OF INFRASTRUCTURE.. and over kill..Posssibly to the extent of iSRAEL wanting to punish the Lebonese govt and Lebonese People for allowing HB to get so well organized and carry out thier operations in southern Lebanon..


Perhaps done to force the lebonese Govt..to take the Current actions agreed to in the UN..

Also I wonder at the timing of the London Arrests and Hijacking plot
and how that fits into the Current actions in Lebanon..??

Co-Ordination..?

Effort to Create a distraction and Focus..so the Hijackers would be sucessful..??

Also...what do you think the Planners believed the United States and GB Response would be..and how we would retaliate..??

They must have anticipated some reaction...

Nothing has Changed..

The Pot will still sit and Boil..

Until it Boils Over..

No matter how much Kool Aid they want us to drink..or Opptomistic they want us to Be about the Situation..

so the Watchmen MUST keep Watch..

IMO..

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