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18 August 2006

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Hector Garza

Pat,

appreciate your posts, especially your take on Allen.
Question: With Hezbollah seemingly stronger than ever before, judging by their popularity amongst the general Lebanese population, how long do you imagine the current cease-fire will last?

Mo

"the Lebanese government has said its troops will only ask Hezbollah not to carry their weapons"

Which they are not allowed to do as civies under HA rules anyway.....

"the Arab states have now declared at the UN that they want a new peace process to begin "

Translation:Just give us something to prove to our people that we're as Arabist as Hizbollah. Please.


"It is our policy to seek an end to the govenments that would be parties to such a peace"

I would add to that, an end to the governments that would be credible in the eyes of their own people when signing to such a peace.

Have the French played an elaborate trick on the US? Or is it part of the plan to stall a UNIFIL force so the Lebanese army can be seen to be going it alone and therefore gain some respect?

W. Patrick Lang

Hector

From the Lebanese side it could last a long time since they need time to sort themselves out politically and re-build.

From the Israeli side, who knows... pl

W. Patrick Lang

Mo

The French are a race of cynical sentimentalists who can not divorce themselves from the memory of past tragedy.

I think they hoped to repair their relationship with the US, but they now see what the cost would be to them in the Arab World of tilting at this windmill.

By the way, I am half French. pl

Mo

Col,
So I would presume from that, that all this talk of a clear mandate translates to the US insisting the beefed up UNIFIL force doing something the French refuse to do (ie disarm HA) which is why they won't send troops?

zanzibar

frustration that Nasrallah evaded the bombs and the assassination attempts and is making fun of his adversaries; on the other hand, determination to pursue him relentlessly, almost at any price, and implement a death sentence - "Hitler," one of the heads of the intelligence community called him this week in Tel Aviv - and thus also to overturn the gloomy atmosphere among the public and in the army.

What will be the implication of Israel assasinating Nasrallah? Are HA ready to respond now with Lebanon devastated? If Israel is successful will it be another Zarqawi moment?

Friendly Fire

pl. says

The French are a race of cynical sentimentalists who can not divorce themselves from the memory of past tragedy.

In between cynical and sentimentalists I would have added "realists"

Montag

PL-Be Fair! The French may just be mindful of the old saying, "Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me." You'll notice that during the evacuation of U.S. civilians from Lebanon the "Beirut Battalion" of the U.S. Marines didn't remain ashore long enough even to let their boots dry.

The Israelis are already trying to veto Malaysian and Indonesian troops because those countries don't have diplomatic relations with Israel. This would make it hard to send them condolences when Israel kills UN soldiers from those countries. Also, they'd probably shoot back. Turkey is more problematic, since they're an Israeli ally.

Journalists in South Lebanon report that you can tell if a man is a Hezbollah soldier even without arms, because they carry the modern version of walkie-talkies.

Rex Brynen

Patrick:

France's actions on the UN Security Council during the crisis had less to do with repairing the relationship with Washington, I think, than fear at the negative consequences of continued war for the region and for the Lebanese government (with which they are very close). It also played well domestically.

France made it extremely clear all through the wrangling over a UN SC resolution that they did NOT foresee deploying forces to directly disarm Hizbullah, correctly assessing that this was likely to be a costly and unsuccessful mission.

Now they are concerned that unless the mandate and RoE make it clear that this isn't the task of UNIFIL+, they'll be blamed for the inevitable failure to elimimate Hizbullah weapons from the south. Washington is likely pushing in the other direction, for an ambitious (and unrealistic) UNIFIL+ mandate--easy to do when you're not actually in the firing line in south Lebanon.

The announcement of a very small additional French contingent is Paris' way of telling everyone that they aren't going to volunteer blindly for Mission Impossible (even if they cowrote the UNSCR text).

b

Via Juan Cole: Anthony H. Cordesman on the Israeli-Hizbullah war:

Preliminary Lessons of Israeli-Hezbollah War (pdf) (25 pages, but here is subjective selected essance - still too long) (emphasis in italic by Cordesman, in bold by me)

/quote/The Israeli emphasis on such kidnappings and casualties also communicates a dangerous sense of Israeli weakness at a military and diplomatic level. It reinforces the message since Oslo that any extremist movement can halt negotiations and peace efforts by triggering a new round of terrorist attacks.

The message seems to be that any extremist movement can lever Israel into action by a
token attack.
...
There is a very real prospect that even if the Israeli-Hezbollah War does not rekindle, it has generated forces in the Arab world that will thrust Israel into a broader, four-cornered struggle with radical Arab elements as well as pose growing political problems for moderate Arab states. The Hezbollah’s performance may well lead its hard-liners and the growing neo-Salafi Sunni extremist elements in Lebanon to keep up a steady pace of terrorist attacks. The Hamas and PIJ forces in Gaza will learn and adapt, and Israel may face a new level of conflict, or “front,” on the West Bank as the same anti-Israeli forces step up their activity there.
...
One key lesson that the US badly needs to learn from Israel is the Israeli rush towards accountability. ... What is interesting about the Israeli approach, however, is the assumption by so many Israeli experts that that major problems and reverses need immediate official examination and that criticism begins from the top down. Patriotism and the pressures of war call for every effort to be made to win, not for support of the political leadership and military command until the war is over.

The US, in contrast, is usually slow to criticize and then tends to focus on the President on a partisan basis. ..

Worse, the US military tends to investigate and punish from the bottom up.
...
Civilians are the natural equivalent of armor in asymmetric warfare, and the US must get used to the fact that opponents will steadily improve their ability to use them to hide, to deter attack, exploit the political impact of strikes, and exaggerate damage and killings.

.. Civilians become cultural, religious, and ideological weapons when the US is attacking different cultures. The gap between the attacker and attacked is so great that no amount of explanation and reparations can compensate.
...
The goal is also to learn what cannot be done, and to avoid setting goals for netcentric warfare, intelligence, targeting, and battle damage assessments that are impossible, or simply too costly and uncertain to deploy.

No country does better in making use of military technology than the US, but nor is any country also so incredibly wasteful, unable to bring many projects to cost-effective deployment, and so prone to assume that technology can solve every problem.

The US needs to approach these problems with ruthless realism at the political, tactical, and technical level. It needs to change its whole set of priorities affecting tactics, technology, targeting, and battle damage to give avoiding unnecessary civilian casualties and collateral damage the same priority as directly destroying the enemy. This means working with local allies and improving HUMINT to reduce damage and political impacts.
...
Israel does face prejudice and media bias in the political dimension of war, but — to put it bluntly — this is as irrelevant to the conduct of war as similar perceptions of the US as a crusader and occupier. It is as irrelevant as complaints that the enemy fights in civilian areas, uses terror tactics, does not wear uniforms and engages in direct combat. Nations fight in the real world, not in ones where they can set the rules for war or perceptual standards.

Israel’s failure to understand this is just as serious and dangerous as America’s. So is Israel’s focus on domestic politics and perceptions. Modern nations must learn to fight regional, cultural, and global battles to shape the political, perceptual, ideological, and media dimensions of war within the terms that other nations and cultures can understand, or they risk losing every advantage their military victories gain.
...
Israel also pushed proportionality to its limits by attacking civilian targets that were not related to the Hezbollah in an effort to force the Lebanese government to act, and failed to explain the scale of the Hezbollah threat in defending its
actions.

The US must not repeat this mistake. It must develop clear plans and doctrine regarding proportionality and be just as ready to explain and justify them as to show how it is acting to limit civilian casualties and collateral damage. Above all, it must not fall into the trap of trying either to avoid the laws of war or of being so bound by a strict interpretation that it cannot fight.
...
Israel is notoriously better at defeating the enemy than at translating such defeats into lasting strategic gains. But the same criticism can often be applied to the US. As a result, the lesson the Israeli-Hezbollah War teaches about conflict termination is the same lesson as the one the US should have learned from its victory in the Gulf War in 1991 and from its defeat of Saddam Hussein in 2003. A war plan without a clear and credible plan for conflict termination can easily become a dangerous prelude to a failed peace.
...
One key point that should be mentioned more in passing than as a lesson, although it may be a warning about conspiracy theories, is that no serving Israeli official, intelligence officer, or other military officer felt that the Hezbollah acted under the direction of Iran or Syria.
...
The issue of who was using whom, however, was answered by saying all sides—the Hezbollah, Iran, and Syria—were perfectly happy to use each other. Israelis felt Nasrallah had initiated the Sheeba farms raid on his own and that Iran and Syria were forced to support him once Israel massively escalated. Israeli officials did not endorse the theory that Iran forced the Hezbollah to act to distract attention from its nuclear efforts.
...
The US and Israel quote figures for the cost of these arms transfers that can reach the billions, and talk about $100-$250 million in Iranian aid per year. The fact is that some six years of build-up and arms transfers may have cost closer to $50-$100 million in all. The bulk of the weapons involved were cheap, disposable or surplus, and transfers put no strain of any kind on either Syria or Iran.

This is a critical point, not a quibble. Playing the spoiler role in arming non-state actors even with relatively advanced weapons is cheap by comparison with other military options. The US must be prepared for a sharp increase in such efforts as its enemies realize just how cheap and easy this option can be.
...
Like insurgent and terrorist groups in Iraq and Afghanistan—and in Arab states like Algeria, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and other states threatened by such groups—the Hezbollah showed the ability of non-state actors to fight their own form of netcentric warfare. The Hezbollah acted as a "distributed network" of small cells and units acting with considerable independence, and capable of rapidly adapting to local conditions using media reports on the, verbal communication, etc.

Rather than have to react faster than the IDF's decision cycle, they could largely ignore it, waiting out Israeli attacks, staying in positions, reinfiltrating or reemerging from cover, and choosing the time to attack or ambush. Forward fighters could be left behind or sacrificed, and "self-attrition" became a tactic substituting for speed of maneuver and the ability to anticipated IDF movements.
...
The value and capability of such asymmetric "netcentric" warfare, and comparatively slow moving wars of attrition, should not be exaggerated. The IDF could win any clash, and might have won decisively with different ground tactics. It also should not be ignored. The kind of Western netcentric warfare that is so effective against conventional forces has met a major challenge and one it must recognize.
...
It should be noted that by August 10th, the IAF had flown some 8,000 fighter sorties and 1,600 attack helicopter sorties ... The IDF evidently fired well over 20,000 artillery rockets, targeting interchangeably with air strikes, and with precision GPS locations allowing the same 10-meter accuracies for much of its artillery.
...
It has also been clear from Douhet to the present that the advocates of airpower tend to sharply exaggerate its ability to influence or intimidate leaders and politicians, and act as a weapons of political warfare. There certainly is little evidence to state that such IAF strikes did more than make Lebanese leaders turn to the international community for support in forcing Israel to accept a ceasefire, provoke Hezbollah leaders to even more intense efforts, and produce a more hostile reaction in the Arab world. The advocates of escalation to intimidate and force changes in behavior at the political level are sometimes right; far more often, they are wrong. More often than not, such attacks provoke more hostility and counterescalation.
... /unquote/

b

On France - I think they reduced their plan AFTER Bush said that he expects the UN force to seal the Syrian boarder.

That made clear again that one can not do business with him.

b

William Lind (a Boyd follower) also has a preliminary assessment:
http://d-n-i.net/lind/lind_8_17_06.htm

/quote/
An Islamic Fourth Generation entity, Hezbollah, will now point the way throughout the Arab and larger Islamic world to a future in which Israel can be defeated. That will have vast ramifications, and not for Israel alone. Hundreds of millions of Moslems will believe that the same Fourth Generation war that defeated hated Israel can beat equally-hated America, its “coalitions” and its allied Arab and Moslem regimes. Future events seem more likely to confirm that belief than to undermine it.
...
Unfortunately for states generally, Israel appears to have no good options when hostilities recommence. It can continue to grind forward on the ground in southern Lebanon, paying bitterly for each foot of ground, and perhaps eventually denying Hezbollah some of its rocket-launching sites. But it cannot hold what it takes. It may strive for a more robust U.N. force, but what country wants to fight Hezbollah? Any occupier of southern Lebanon that is not there with Hezbollah’s permission will face the same guerrilla war Israel already fought and lost. Most probably, Israel will escalate by taking the war to Syria or Iran, and what will be a strategy of desperation. That too will fail, after it plunges the whole region into a war the outcome of which will be catastrophic for the United States as well as for Israel.
...
Israel only has a long-term future if it can reach a mutually acceptable accommodation with its neighbors. So long as those neighbors are states, a policy of pursuing such an accommodation may have some chance of success. But as the rise of Fourth Generation elements such as Hezbollah and Hamas weaken and in time replace those states, the possibility will disappear. Unfortunately, Israeli politics appear to be moving away from such a course rather than toward it.

For America, the question is whether Washington will continue to demand that we go down with the Israeli ship.
/quote/

Peter

Pat,

I don't think the French would take offense to such an observation, despite it not being positive!

Anyway,

With all this solidarity coming from opposition forces, such as this small example mentioned here, and the recent "unity government" talks between Hamas and Fatah as a large example, you'd think Israel might start tendering offers to recognize the Palestinian state, and the Arab and Muslim nations in the most general sense.

Would it be pride stopping them from doing as much, or just ignorance?

billmon

"On a different but related subject, the Arab states have now declared at the UN that they want a new peace process to begin in the Middle East because the "road map" is dead. What they want is a new 'Madrid,' . . .


Unfortunately for them, the neocons have a different Madrid in mind, as in: Battle of, 1936.

dan

I think that the ceasefire is potentially "durable" if the Israelis withdraw back across the Blue Line - it's not clear whether they have that many troops left in Lebanon at any rate. I'd certainly be surprised if there were any Israeli forces left in Lebanon in 7 days - the risk that more might get killed or captured is too high.

The issue of the 2 IDF prisoners is going to be problematic for Olmert. Restarting the conflict without their fate being resolved is going to be impossible, so the second component of a "durable" ceasefire, a prisoner exchange, is likely to be on the table within the next 30 days. The negotiations might take a long time - as the Israelis will resist the all-or-none approach that Hizbullah will adopt, and there is also the prior history of Israeli bad faith in the 2004 deal that will cast a complicating shadow.

W. Patrick Lang

All

For all those who did not perceive it, I am an unabashed Francophile. "Realist?" Yes, but not when the chips are down. Anyone who ever watched the film of French Union volunteers jumping into Dien Bien Phu as replacements when the place was clearly doomed knows that. pl

W. Patrick Lang

All

Watch the length on these comments please. pl

Ash

I suspect that the Arab League (old term) want to re-open the 2002 proposals that recognise Israel but insist on a return to 1967 territory, at the very least.

The likelihood of Israel relinquishing all such gains is slim. But if they don't - and soon - then the next item on the agenda will be far more widespread discussion of a 'One-State' solution comprising all of Israel and Palestine, i.e. no longer a Jewish-only theocratic/racist state on the one hand, and left-over bantu-stans on the other with the Israeli-desired notion of a nuclear-armed American-backed state neighbouring a demilitarised, border-controlled neighbour whose only form of armed resistance tends to the 'terrorist' type.

The chances of the 'Arab League' coming together convincingly, given how much of their leadership is Western-controlled satrapies, is slim. But the potential for a tectonic shift in international intercourse is there.

Probably, however, the neocon-Israeli axis will opt for one more major power play before throwing in the towel. If it works, they win. If it doesn't, they are turfed out of office and a major revision of US policy viz. Israel will ensue.

Whilst many in the ME, no doubt, die of radiation poisoning....

arbogast

I am an unabashed francophile too. And I will say that even though perhaps a majority of the French would like to skin Chirac alive and feed him to the pigs, they are essentially 100% behind his stance in Lebanon.

He said it loudly from the start: only a political solution is of any value; there are no military solutions.

A political solution is going to involve the Palestinians and Hezbollah. Israel and its client, the United States, will not accept that.

What is the danger? The danger is the Democratic Party taking over one of the houses of Congress in November. If that happens, Bush will go nuclear with Iran between the time of the election and the time the new Representatives/Senators are seated in January.

He's really into faits accomplis.

Ash

B. Thanks for the report. Good reading.

IF Hz was not really taken out as ideally desired, certainly in the short term they have been degraded. So I would watch for an escalation of conflict from US-Israel in short term, barring which the entire campaign can probably be judged a failure and momentum will favour the Shia-axis opposition.

Given current political picture in US, odds favour escalation in short term, aka:

"October surprise!"

zanzibar

"Whilst many in the ME, no doubt, die of radiation poisoning...." - Ash

The use of nuclear weapons in the close confines of the Levant seems self-defeating. If a nuclear weapon is detonated in Lebanon or even Damascus the radiation plume could very well reach Israel.

I cant remember the web site that had a diagram of the extent of radiation coverage in the event a nuclear weapon was dropped on Teheran but it was extensive. They are not island like Japan.

Will

Peace has been on the table for at least five years. The signed Taba agreement or the comparable Geneva accords (can be read at www.gush-shalom.org). That would set up a Palestinian state giving Israel the large settlement blocks. Once you give Syria back the Golan heights, then the Faisal-Beirut initiative kick in signed by all 22 Arab states calling for full Peace with trade- a warm Peace.

What's the hitch. The NeoKons in charge of the U.S. goverment reject land for peace and UN Resolultion 242 and insist on Peace for Peace. Because the occupied West Bank is really the ancient homeland-- Judea and Samaria. They want that land without the indigineous population.

That's why there won't be Peace without a regime change in the U.S.
Best Wishes

Mo

Zanzibar,
What will be the implication of Israel assasinating Nasrallah? Totally, and absolutely unknown for anyone and if I was Israel I would stick with the devil I know and not plunge down what could be a very deep and very dark well.

Matthew

Ash is on to something. The longer Israel puts off the two-state solution, the more likely the one-state solution becomes inevitable. The Palestinians have been beaten down to subsistence level. Israel's problem is that all the Palestinians have left is time...and healthy wombs. Israel's self-defeating policies represent what some Israeli commentators call Israel's "suicidal tendency."

arbogast

One thing that can be skipped over a bit too easily, but which completely defines who is winning and who is losing, is that Israel and the United States want France to disarm Hezbollah.

If I had told you a six months ago that Israel and the United States would delegate the disarmament of Hezbollah to France, you would have dismissed me as a lunatic.

The Security Council resolution might just as well have been written in Tel Aviv (which it probably was), but what is happening makes Israel and the US look pathetic.

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