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07 August 2006

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McGee

"In short, he is George W. Bush's idea of an "Arab League" Secretary General from Hell."

Pat, the longer I read your commentary, the more impressed I am with your area expertise, cogent analysis, and rare ability to draw reality-based conclusions regardless of whence they lead. Are you sure you came out as an O-6 and not an E-9?

Thank you, as always...

W. Patrick Lang

McGee

Lots of E-9s or ex-E-9s in my family. I was taught common sense. pl

Nancy Kimberlin

I feel so out of my depth even responding, but since listening to you on the News Hour I have so believed your insights. My husband was in the Israeli Army in 67 and 73 and he also values your insights. Thank you.

Eric

Pat:

That was a very effective 2 minute briefing.

Can't recall whether it was an example of the sledgehammer or the switchblade technique.

Surely no wasted words and no wasted motion, though.

Take Care and keep writing.

W. Patrick Lang

Eric

I do like the man.

How's the weather in the Valley?

Pat

W. Patrick Lang

Nancy

Please do continue to write. I would be very interested in both your and your husband's views on all this.

A lot of old soldiers and their ladies write to me. One was at Dien Bien Phu. pl

zanzibar

"Is he crooked (money)? Well... Everything is relative. in the ME." -PL

Not very different from our Capitol.

The Art of Greasing the Palm

billmon

"In short, he is George W. Bush's idea of an "Arab League" Secretary General from Hell."


I'm sorry, but this is like saying he's George W. Bush's idea of the attack parakeet from hell.

I'm not entirely sure Shrub even knows the Arab League exists. And if he does, he probably thinks it's a baseball franchise.

blowback

Perhaps he will chew up John Bolton and spit him out for breakfast and the European will applaud. Mark Perry and Alastair Crooke are reporting disagreements between the White House and the French over the resolution

Through the course of a single week, the US and France came as close to a bitter split over Middle East policy as they had on the eve of the Iraq war. At issue in the confrontation was a US insistence that an international force (led by France) be deployed to Lebanon prior to the declaration of a ceasefire - a requirement the French thought ludicrous. They weren't the only ones.

"The position that we're taking in the UN is just nuts," a former White House official close to the US decision-making process said during the negotiations. "The US wants to put international forces on the ground in the middle of the conflict, before there's a ceasefire. The reasoning at the White House is that the international force could weigh on the side of the Israelis - could enforce Hezbollah's disarmament."

The rest of the article is amazing - it wouldn't surprise me it the EU restarted funding Hamas to spite Bush/Bolton and Olmert/Gillerman.

blowback

That should have read Hamas government programmes not just Hamas.

Jon T.

I just linked from Steve Clemons TWN. I find your writing refreshing. Thank you. I was not military; in fact was a Viet Nam war protester. I'm finding the clarity and courage among current and former military personnel who are currently speaking out encouraging light in a dark scene. In reading your posts I'm reminded of Rick Rescorla who I read about in "Heart of a Soldier". I like straightforward, factual presentation of both strategy and tactics and their effects on human beings, like I hear from Chuck Hegal, Gen. Zinni, Gen. Shinseki, and Lawrence Wilkerson. I do not like propaganda, word games, denial or twisting ethics to fit an ulterior motive. I wonder what happened to Colin Powell?

W. Patrick Lang

Jon T.

Powell - A sad thing. He always treated me well, and defended me on a couple of occasions when I pushed someone too hard.

Sometimes people get to thinking that they are more important to history than they really are. That can lead to serious foolishness. pl

H.G.

Bush and the neocons seem to continually push military options regardless of the cost in blood or treasure, implying negotiated solutions are worthless until there is a clear outcome. I wonder if their opponents haven't now agreed?

If you look at it from the Hezbollah/Hamas point of view, wouldn't it make sense at this point to let this play out (provided you have zero regard for your own civilian casualties which we should take as a given) since a very likely outcome is a decisive military defeat for Israel?

Also, should Israel's current adventure burst the bubble of US/Israeli military superiority, wouldn't this also embolden our enemies in Iraq, Iran and even North Korea to exploit our weakened and over-extended condition?

I don't know, I'm just asking....


zanzibar

blowback

Thanks for posting the article in Asia Times. I found it very interesting.

"Bolton's inflammatory statements, US insistence on the deployment of an international force prior to a ceasefire, and Gillerman's offensive hectoring of European diplomats deepened French suspicions over US-Israeli aims at the height of negotiations over a UN resolution."

Obviously some tensions due to personalities.

"The difference between the US and Europe on how to handle the Middle East is stark," a Finnish diplomat said during a recent private meeting in Washington. "In the US your political parties worry about the Jewish vote - in Europe, political parties worry about the Muslim vote. It's just that simple."

Some of these concerns, and the divide that Europe's new demographics are cleaving between Washington and European capitals, is now finally beginning to make its way into the press. At issue is US and Israeli terminology, which tends to paint Muslims as terrorists and Israelis as Westerners fighting for civilization."

This shows the opposite poles of perspectives. If the Europeans basically align with the Arabs - not sure how Condi and Olmert will find a face saving exit unless the IDF comes through with some major battlefield victories.

JD

How effective is the Arab League? I can't help but feel more than a bit of knee jerk contempt towards the organization. For decades I've watched them gather, bitch and moan, and go their separate ways and seemingly achieve absolutely nothing. I don't doubt for a moment that many of the members of the organization are intelligent, worldly, articulate. I also understand that in diplomacy, especially in the ME, talk is in itself a political objective. Nonetheless, every time the Arab League meets I want to yawn. Every time I read a synopsis of their accomplishments, I roll my eyes. I don't want to sound overly, how shall I saw this, American, but are these guys at all effective at anything other than expressing their outrage?

Rob K.

I wonder Pat if history will be more generous to Colin Powell when all is said and done and the facts are more fully known.

jang

Reading your past posts and can only wonder if MSM will be held to account for its dispensing of "Kool Aid Lite" on behalf of this administration.

Mo

H.G., I dont think you should take it as a given that Hizbollah have zero regard for their own civilian casualties. They have offered the Israelis a truce on civilian targeting which the Israelis rejected. Obviously they are, militarily in a very unique position of being the side winning on the ground but taking the higher civilian casulties. I would think that they are thinking that a ground win may have the very same strategic effect on future lives as the IDFs hitherto supposed invincibility.

JD, you're not alone. As a noted Lebanese journalist said the day before the Beirut gathering," I predict they will express their outrage, demand the international community do something and pledge their support to the people of Lebanon" - Of course no one expected the earth shattering belligerent move of sending a delegation to the UN. Mr Bolton must be very worried.

lina

History will not be kind to Colin Powell when it chronicles the War to Advance Iranian Hegemony.

searp

Any deal will have to be imposed, and therefore won't happen or won't last. The diplomatic minuet is just political atmospherics. Notice how the "cease fire" resolution keeps getting pushed out? The French will never deploy if they think Hezbollah is going to give them a taste of what others have experienced in South Lebanon. If they do deploy and actually shoot people, Hezbollah is sure to shoot back. Total mess.

H.G.

Mo - Just because Israel is busy commiting war crimes is no reason to get all squishy over Hezbollah's leadership. The point of my comment was that they are engaged in the exact same cynical calculus that Bush and Israel have employed which is much as you describe it: accepting wonton death and destruction now vs. hypothetical "future lives" in some kind of "decisive" military outcome. If not, why does Hezbollah not call their own unilateral ceasefire regarding Katushya rockets and attacks into Israel population centers? What exactly would they have to lose from that? If they confined their military activities to harrasing invading Israeli ground forces, wouldn't that put further pressure on Israel to quit bombing Beirut, Tyre, etc., etc.? In fact if played right, a move like that might even give them political legitimacy outside of the ME they never would have had prior to Israel's sickening over-reacting. Regardless of whether Israel wanted to, it would certainly change the complexion of ceasefire negotiations and put very heavy pressure on Israel to reign in. The end of negotiations for Hezbollah following that move would likely be no worse than what they inevitably will be given the current course of events. They will still be a very potent political and military force with their hand strengthened by their "moderating", the only question is how many corpses they will be standing on top of when all the smoke clears. Rocket attacks are not air cover for guerilla ground forces; there utility is only to inflame and/or demoralize Israeli public opinion and force the Israeli military to remain committed to this self-destructive strategy, or otherwise suffer horrendous internal political upheaval by abandoning the long-held policy of responding to every Katushya "tit" with a dozen thousand pound "tats".

Mo

H.G., I didn't mean to come across as "squishy". Perhaps I should have spelled out my logic. Contrary to Israeli expectation, every civilian death seems to be adding a percentage point to the Hizbolla popularity polls. Logic dictates that if they had zero regard for civilian casulties they would be happy for that situation to continue and not offer a truce on civilian targets.


In regards to ending the rocket attacks unilateraly, I have been thinking exactly the same thing myself the past week. The situation as I see it is that at the outset they did not expect the worldwide condemnation of Israel that has happened. This is, after all, attack number 5 in the last 25 years and the Lebanese experience of Israeli assaults is that they will get no help from the outside world. Therefore Hizbollah would have stockpiled these missiles on the basis of trying to use them as a detterent or in order to give as good as they got. I think therefore that they've been caught out by the media interest and more importantly, the medias even handedness (Fox News not withstanding).

The problem of stopping now, as I see it, is that while you are absolutely right, it gives them more of a moral high ground, better negotiating position etc. and would stop innocent lives being lost in Israel, it is that the Israeli attacks are not "tats" for the Katyushas "tit". The attacks would be going on regardless. The tactics they are using now, of targeting civilians, ambulances and aid agencies are exactly what they did in 1996 with the difference being that the Clinton administration was more restraining (and actually stepped in after the Qana massacre of that attack). This administration hasn't just given the Israelis a green light, it has switched them off entirely. Therefore, they probably believe that considering the US influence in the UN, taking any kind of moral high ground would be of little strategic gain when it is guaranteed the airstrikes will continue and the Israeli govt. would be able to claim they had met their objective therefore removing any pressure from the Israeli public on its govt. because any of the increasingly dissenting voices would be silenced. I also dont seriously believe it would massively change the complexion of any negotiations because I think that while the US has got Israels back diplomatically, they wont feel they need to compromise all too much, rockets or not.

Dimitar Vesselinov

The New Middle East
http://www.armedforcesjournal.com/2006/06/1833899
http://me-in-jordan.blogspot.com/2006/08/new-middle-east-borders.html

WHO WINS, WHO LOSES
Winners —
Afghanistan
Arab Shia State
Armenia
Azerbaijan
Free Baluchistan
Free Kurdistan
Iran
Islamic Sacred State
Jordan
Lebanon
Yemen

Losers —
Afghanistan
Iran
Iraq
Israel
Kuwait
Pakistan
Qatar
Saudi Arabia
Syria
Turkey
United Arab Emirates
West Bank

praktike

I think Hosni will be watching very carefully to see if Amr gets too popular amidst this crisis. But where to kick him upstairs this time?

david frost

Good point about Hezbollah stopping it's rocket attacks being a great international bargaining chip, but it is diminished by the fact as Mo alluded to that Israel has made the diminishment rocket attacks part of their victory scenario, and a end to rocket attacks would be perceived as a loss of operational ability of Hezbollah and end up putting Lebanon in a weaker position at the bargaining table. Firing their rockets is mostly a symbolic resistance, but if they stop now, the IDF will be claim a victory point and justify their invasion and bombing campaign to their public, and could also mean a loss of support for Hezbollah among the disparate groups in Lebanon if they perceive them to be weakened.

This is an analytical view, my heart of course wish neither side was bombing each other.

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