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21 August 2006

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zanzibar

The two "B"'s remain firmly ensconced in "la-la" land to the detriment of the peoples in the ME and USA.

billmon

It gets even worse: While Bolton's mouthpiece is telling reporters a second resolution is less important than getting the New! Improved! UNIFIL into southern Lebanon, the Europeans are saying they want a second resolution to clarify the rules of engagement BEFORE they commit troops.

After you, Gaston!

No, I insist, after YOU, my dear Alphonse!

MarcLord

Col. Lang,

As it happens I just posted a guess about this on my own blog a few minutes ago. I think they want NATO to occupy Lebanon, because having the UN there doesn't fit with closing the ring around Iran. There has been a lot of lobbying effort aimed at getting Israel aligned with (it is), exercising with (it has), and inducted into (not yet) NATO:

Nato-Israel partnership boosted
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/middle_east/4295139.stm

Does Israel Belong in the EU and NATO?
http://www.policyreview.org/feb05/asmus.html

Israel signs security agreement with NATO (2001)
http://www.nato.int/docu/update/2001/0423/e0424b.htm

Just a guess, but it fits the ambitions.

Respectfully,
Marc

MarcLord

On my previous post I skipped over some logic: I believe Bolton's true objective is to wreck the UN resolution entirely or to get Nasrallah to reject it.

Either outcome sets the necessary pre-conditions for a NATO deployment, in which Nasrallah could be enticed to deal by getting some say in the quality and location of said deployment and NATO provides a fully armed buffer between the warring parties. If nothing else for Nasrallah, it buys him time to build the expected majority in Lebanon's parliament. For US designs, only NATO can secure Israel's backside and allow it to move on Syria, whereas a UNIFIL deployment fails miserably on that key criterion.

Plus, it provides a nice way of backing us into multilaterlism in the region, outsources our groundpounder shortage with a wishful eye to an Iraq exit strategy, and goes one more step to (supposedly) securing the region's vital resources.

John Shreffler

Real answer:

http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/752773.html
Senior IDF officers: Hezbollah hostilities liable to restart soon
By Amos Harel, Haaretz Correspondent

"Members of the Israel Defense Forces General Staff say that "round two" between Israel and Hezbollah could begin within months or even weeks, probably over the renewal of arms deliveries to the organization from Iran and Syria.

One senior officer told Haaretz on Sunday that throughout the month-long war with Hezbollah, Iran and Syria attempted to smuggle large quantities of weapons to Lebanon. He said that the efforts were stepped up over the past week, following the cease-fire and the end of Israel Air Force sorties deep in Lebanese territory.

The officer noted that while UN Security Council Resolution 1701 calls for an embargo on arms shipments to Hezbollah, no mechanism has been put in place to enforce this embargo, and said that Israel will have to intervene if the deliveries continue unchecked."

The article goes on to detail specifics. The UN is smoke and mirrors.

ckrantz

The obvious question. Do they actually belive in what they are saying or are they just following the party line. I'm not sure which would be scarier. But it is the same arrogant stupidity they keep showing again and again.

I still think there will be a showdown with Iran before the end of the Bush administration with all it's implications for the region, iraq and the troops there mostly ignored by these guys. The whole point of disarming Hizbullah is to weaken the Iranian 'western front' and secure the Israeli border region is it not?

Frank Durkee

This is not to disagree eith any of the posts above; but is stikes me that a lot of Bolton's stuff is for domestic cinsumptions. Especially the mid-term elections. I thik it is debatable whether or nor renewed conflict would benefit the WHous at this point or cost some Republican seats.
What, that wouldn't backfire on Isreal or the US is left to destroy in Lebanon? So there is an argrument aagainst a quck reengagement Especially if UN FOrces and significang NGOs are in the way. I know this can be argrued about but it is something to think about.

parvati_roma

Re: " I think they want NATO to occupy Lebanon, because having the UN there doesn't fit with closing the ring around Iran."

"They" meaning US and Israel. Yes that's what they wanted at the start... but Nato decision-making has to be by unanimous consensus ( see: http://www.nato.int/issues/consensus/index.html ) and the various European countries made it very clear that they were even less willing to go in under NATO "quasi-Anmerican" hats than under UN ones... so the idea was rapidly dropped.

Mo

Ok, in my humble opinion the answer is 2-fold (and yes you will have to put on the consipiracy hats I'm afraid).

There was, I believe a pre-war plan, which as MarcLord says above, involved Israel doing the attacking while the US buys them the couple of weeks diplomatically and then NATO going into Lebanon to secure Israels northern border. This is evidenced by the recent reports of pre-war planning by the US and Israel, and recent flurry of NATO meetings held in Israel. Furthermore, this was to be step one in Operation Get Iran (to be honest I am not at all sure if not only Jordan, Egypt and Saudi were in on it but perhaps Seniora himself although I am now getting to the edges of realm of possibility).

Like the best laid plans, someone had forgotten to send the Lebanese people and Hizbollah the script. The Maronite and Sunni population of Lebanon did not turn. And, most importantly Hizbollah was not only not beaten, it let loose a couple of surprises, leaving the impression that it is stronger than first envisaged.

Of course, now the NATO nations supposed to go in are saying behind closed doors that this was never the plan. They were supposed to take over a pacified Lebanon, with no Hizbollah. I believe this is why France's offer of forces has gone from thousands to hundreds in a week.

So now Bolton is flailing, resorting to calling on the implementation of failed resolutions which ae obviously dead in tha water. He is buying time, keeping the issue alive while a Plan B is worked out.

And herein lies the danger for the Lebanese. The sound bites coming from Lebanese ministers are starting to worry me. They are trying to talk tough when they are anything but. So someone is giving them the green light to do so. The question is, is Hizbollah letting them talk tough to prove to the international community that they got things under control or, as these ministers are part of a very pro-US alliance, is this Plan B where they try to encircle Hizbollah internally? If it is, things could get horribly out of hand.

Well, the great news from next week, I will be able to let you know first hand as I will be back in sunny Beirut.

John Shreffler,
Im no seer, but historically, when the Israelis threaten imminent action they usually mean it, but when they threaten action in some vague future point they are usually playing to the crowd. Lets hope that is still the case.

J

Colonel,

b1 (bush) is 'crazy', loony as a bed bug and why congress hasn't impeached him for malfeasance of office, makes a sane person scratch their head.

b2 (bolton) is simply 'lost without a clue' as far as the middle east and the globe in general. bolton can't see beyond his overgrown moustache.

as long as congress fails to do its job (e.g. look our for our nation's real interests, protect our military structures from imploding, and impeach the idiots called bush-cheney), we're simply put -- in a heap of trouble until then.

confusedponderer

Bolton is IMO doing two things:

First, he is trying to stall the resolution by making impossible demands, or surprising demands that everyone else thought had been solved on the last minute, so seizing the initiative. He can be expected to obstruct.

Second, if he can't prevent a resolution, he is still serving Israel a US sanctioned excuse to continue hostilities and to ignore UNIFIL-II and the ceasefire on a silver plate: 'Hezbollah is not disarmed' ... or: whenever you're ready.
He's also quietly pointing out this has certainly Cheneys backing. When Israel re-starts hostilities, Bolton will blame the UN and the French for failing to disarm Hezbollah.

For Bolton that's a win-win situation.

Ghostman

One word comes to mind: Pretext.

I think Bolton's initiative sets up failure for Hizb. Of course, Hizb will not disarm. And the Bolton rule passes. And Israel keeps up its intermittent shelling, or helo raids, or surgical (cough) airstrikes. Israel will always justify its actions based on perceived Hizb violations. Israel will not be sanctioned. And anger will build amongst Hizb as they keep suffering Israeli actions without punishment to Israel.

Finally, one day, Hizb anger boils over. Some rockets are lit off...inbound to Israel. Israel, and US media "have a cow". The world is a twitter with unease. Israel shouts in indignation. And one Mr. Bolton self-righteously proclaims: "WE are the good guys. Working thru the UN, back in August, we passed a resolution demanding that Hizb disarm. They won't listen...they never have. And by the way...it's all the fault of Syria and Iran!"

And so the drumbeat of war gets louder. Bolton, and the US now have political cover for the military response. And it all started back when Bolton lit a fuse of destined failure for Hizb.

At least, that's what I think Bolton is up to.

Ghostman

canuck

Nasrallah’s http://weekly.ahram.org.eg/2006/808/re601.htm>speeches revisited.

He isn’t about to disarm despite what UN resolutions are passed and what Israel threatens. Why should he? Israel was beaten. The leadership of Israel is http://www.guardian.co.uk/international/story/0,,1855235,00.html>under attack for their lack of planning and ability to win a war against a superior guerilla opponent.

Calls for heads to roll http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/story/0,20867,20192373-2703,00.html> after the Yom Kipper War seem to be repeating.

Hizbullah studied the wars and is 4GW.

Eaken

Two B's? I believe there are 3: bush, blair, bolton

pbrownlee

Don't you admire the Israeli flacks repeating how the Shia Lebanese will blame Hizbullah for the destruction of their families and homes?

At the risk of (re)stating the blindingly obvious -- Rami Khouri, editor of the Beirut Daily Star, in today's Guardian:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/syria/story/0,,1854638,00.html

"Israel and the US are obsessed with disarming Hizbullah and confronting Iran. But a quarter of a century ago neither of these issues existed. How Hizbullah and Iran became so problematic is worth recalling. Until 1979 Iran under the Shah was a close ally and friend of the US and Israel, and Hizbullah was not even born. What happened in the three decades from the mid-70s to today? Many things. The most consistent one was that we all allowed the Arab-Israeli conflict to fester unresolved. Its bitterness kept seeping out from its Palestine-Israel core to corrode many other dimensions of the region.

"The constant clashes between Israel and Lebanon since the late 1960s derived heavily from the unresolved Palestinian-Israeli conflict that started with the 1948 war. Since Iran's 1979 revolution Islamist revolutionary zeal has found effective expression in its close association with Hizbullah, which Iranian revolutionary guards were instrumental in establishing and training. Tehran's assistance to Hamas today follows a similar pattern. A non-Arab power such as Iran exploits the resentment against Israel and the US throughout the Arab world to make political inroads into Arab regions. If the Arab-Israeli conflict had been resolved decades ago, Iran would not have this opportunity.

"Hizbullah has many people working backwards. While the American-Israeli effort to disarm Hizbullah aims mainly to protect Israel, the fact is that Hizbullah has developed its military capability primarily in response to a need to protect Lebanon from repeated Israeli attacks in the past four decades. (Lebanese calls to disarm Hizbullah are motivated more by a desire to prevent the party from bringing more ruin from Israeli attacks, or to prevent it from taking over the country's political system and aligning it with Syria and Iran.)

"The way to end Hizbullah's status as the only non-state-armed group in Lebanon is to rewind the reel, and go to the heart of the problem that caused Hizbullah to develop its formidable military capabilities in the first place. If we solve the Arab-Israeli conflict in a fair manner, according to UN resolutions, we would eliminate two critical political forces that now nourish Hizbullah's armed defiance: the Israeli threat to Lebanon, and the ability of Syria and Iran to exploit the ongoing conflict with Israel by working through Lebanon."

Obssessing on Hizbullah is like trying to cure that nagging cough when what you've got is Yersinia pestis.

Do you think the US President even knows that Iran is a non-Arab power and has a somewhat unfortunate Arab minority? The Shia-Sunni divide seemed quite a hurdle for him.

(Incidentally, how Metternich would have hated the Internet! Common folk concerning themselves in high policy that is no business of theirs.

zanzibar

"Well, the great news from next week, I will be able to let you know first hand as I will be back in sunny Beirut." - Mo

I've enjoyed your posts. Please keep them coming and fill us in on the complex quicksand of Lebanese domestic politics and the machinations of the big "powers" - Syria, Iran, US, Saudi, etc to influence the domestic scene. And of course the local reactions to the conflict and the "truce".

John Shreffler

Mo,

I think that the IDF Command doesn't accept the fight as having been concluded and is looking for a re-match. The Olmert gov't told them to quit but than Olmert isn't long for the world. The thing about the Israelis that most impresses me is the focus which the IDF has about ensuring the appearance of victory. Remember 1973? They didn't quit until Sharon had pocketed the Egyptians, even though it made no strategic difference. Watch, they'll be back in Lebanon soon. An unnamed Israeli general in the Sunday NYT was making that pretty clear:

“But in the long run, if we see Hezbollah rearming itself and running southern Lebanon, I believe the next round is coming.”

After all, “this is the Middle East,” the officer said. “One war ends, and the next one is already at the door.”

http://www.nytimes.com/2006/08/20/world/middleeast/20mideast.html?pagewanted=2&_r=1

Hope you're right but my gut says no.

Griffon

I think Mo and MarcLord are right on the money. It fits!
I don't know what Hizbullah's logistical situation was like at the time of the ceasefire, but unless it was desperate, I think they made a major mistake in agreeing to it.
If Israel had been forced to withdraw completely, then the coming war with Iran would have been off the boil.
What we are seeing is the neocons' desperate efforts to keep the flame under it. They're wriggling and twisting all over the place.
Nasrallah let them put their foot in the door by agreeing to any sort of third party force being present. He needs to break the ceasefire the next time Israel does the slightest thing wrong BEFORE any foreign troops get in there.
Once Israel thinks it has a barrier between itself and Hizbullah, then it will be on with the "world war show".

cynic librarian

Did anyone catch this on CNN's Situation Room this evening? According to CNN's Pentagon reporter Barbara Starr, any US plan to invade/attack Iran would involve using the UN to "protect" Israel from Hizbullah retaliation. I kid you not.

Starr reported:

Analysts say support for a strike against Iran would be tough. U.S. forces in Iraq would have to be protected from Iranian retaliation. U.S. military assets such as tanker aircraft and ships must be put into position. A U.N. peacekeeping force first must be deployed in Lebanon to protect Israel.. ...
These are Pentagon analysts telling her this. She's not just making it up or surmising it. The impression I guess is that she's quoting verbatim what Pentagon insiders have told her.

zanzibar

Hizbullah's representative in Iran has ruled out the disarmament of his party and said the group will buy new weapons if necessary, in an interview published Monday. "There will not be disarmament, the UN resolution has not demanded that either," Abdullah Safieddine told Shargh newspaper, on the eighth day of a UN-brokered cessation of hostilities that ended Israel's month-long offensive against Lebanon.

(snip)

"God willing, we will have no problem. If anybody wants to resist they will seek to buy arms if need be," Safieddine said. "As long as the army does not have the capability to defend the country we have to defend it."

W. Patrick Lang

All

"Contemplating the Ifs...."
The "National Interest" asked Johnson and me to write this.

Pat Lang

Download lang_johnson_tni_83.pdf

02 March 2006 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (45)

MarcLord

Mo,

The whole Bush family is one longstanding, mushrooming conspiracy, so I don't have problems with you making us put the hat on. Thanks for your insights, please come back here with more from your travels on the ground.

Frank Durkee, et al, this Administration shows no signs whatsoever of shying away from renewed conflict. To them, they're just pursuing the same roadmap, and their eyes are locked onto the same prize: lasso up the energy and win WWIII before it even starts.

They haven't exactly been secretive about their ends or their means for the last 15 years. It's odd how many people still have difficulty believing them at this date. Rumsfeld and Cheney are going after Iran. Have been setting it up for at least 20 years.

They may have to adjust the means, but the end is the same. Take out a map of the region from the Caspian Sea on down, look at the new names on it, and the battle plan illuminates itself. They're encircling Iran and walling the Oil Triangle off from Russia and China.

canuck

The Article, “Contemplating the Ifs.” Is available on line at http://noquarter.typepad.com/my_weblog/2006/03/contemplating_t.html#comments>Larry Johnson’s site

War on Terra
by Robert Wolff

The Long War it is now called. Reporters and commentators call it the War on Terrorists, which of course is a little more reasonable than making war on a concept like terror. It seems that the president still calls it War on Terror. When I hear him say that in Texan, I hear War on Terra. Even a war on terrorists is something that the rich and powerful cannot win, or even wage. Our war machine is based on destroying a visible enemy, a country.

We're very good at making and delivering bombs and missiles that do what they are designed to do: destroy. Terrorists, however, are people who, for one reason or another, are mad at people who have powerful guns and armies. If you don't have a war machine, what else can you do but strike out at a ship, a building? It is not all that difficult to understand why some people in the world are mad at us. Not because they envy our freedom. They object to our pushy arrogance.

"The West won the world not by the superiority of its ideas or values or religion but rather by its superiority in applying organized violence. Westerners often forget this fact, non-Westerners never do." Samuel P. Huntington

http://www.opednews.com/articles/opedne_robert_w_060424_war_on_terra.htm>more at Oped News

-----

The West is insane to contemplate going to war with Israel in Iran. The troops in Iraq would be attacked by Shiites. Iran would block the Strait of Hormuz, cutting off oil supplies. Argentina would also cut off supplies to the United States. China could cripple the US economy by not buying financial instruments. Japan would also suffer because she gets large quantities of oil from Iran.

Like it or not, the United States has to negotiate with Iran and I can’t think of a better way than establishing direct talks with Iran. It’s foolhardy not to talk to your enemies.

Mo

Zanzibar,
Thanks for the kind words, and I too enjoy reading your many contributions. Assuming I can avoid the unexploded Israeli muntions, avoid being irradiate by the depleted uranium and I don't get taken by a "daring" commando raid, I will try my best to keep posting.

John Shreffler,
I absolutely agree that the IDF doesn't accept the fight as having been concluded and is looking for a re-match. I just don't think it will be any time soon. Diplomatically, a re-incursion would be disastrous without very serious Hizbollah incitement and their raid last week only means that the incitement necessary would have to be all the more serious. Olmert may see another attack as a chance to bolster his failing leadership but, while he may be able to rescue his administration from the current crisis another attack resulting in any more embarresment would kill him off entirely. Finally and not least, I'm not sure the IDF knows what to do. By all accounts, the last weekend of fighting saw Hizbollah push the Israelis back to the border in many places and there were even reports of the fighting taking place inside Israel itself.

A US attack on Iran may provide cover for another attack, but I doubt Bush can get that going before the mid-terms and he may not be able to until well into 2007.

Griffon,
Hizbollah didn't need the ceasefire but Lebanon did. The humanitarian situation was such that had they not agreed the Lebanese population may have not been so forgiving. Even Beirut, hospitals were a couple of days away from having no electricity and a week away from exhausting medical supplies. As such, I think Hizbollah had no choice but to agree.
The idea of a 3rd party probably means nothing to them anyway. The topography of the South of Lebanon means anyone not knowledgabe of it is going to have a tough time stopping anyone from doing anything.

parvati_roma

Some interesting background on the UNIFIL mission issue in this Jerusalem Post article:
....................
http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?cid=1154525919205&pagename=JPost%2FJPArticle%2FShowFull

Italy told Israel and Lebanon it will contribute a large number of troops to an enhanced UNIFIL force in southern Lebanon, and possibly even lead the force, after it became clear the "whole machinery was stalling," Italian Ambassador Sandro De Bernardin told The Jerusalem Post Monday.

"Italy has always been strongly committed to contributing to peace in this region, and when it was evident that a solution to the conflict with Hizbullah needed international intervention, we said we were happy to make our contribution," he said.

"We were worried when the whole machinery was stalling because of difficulties in the French bid for taking the leadership, and expressed to all the parties concerned, including UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, that we were willing to consider a strong commitment to the force, and that if France was stepping out [of the leadership role], we would be willing to take on the responsibility."

De Bernardin said Italy could not "go it alone" and hoped that efforts to bring other nations into the force would bear fruit.

(...)
European officials have said, however, that they didn't want the force - for political reasons - to be perceived solely as a force of the West.

"Obviously there will be a strong European involvement," one European official said, "but we also want to see a Muslim representation to show that it represents the whole international community."

(...)

Diplomatic officials said France, which at the beginning of the war pushed hard for an international force and said it would be willing to lead it, changed its mind because of concern that its badly strained relations with Syria would lead Hizbullah to target French soldiers.

France, the officials pointed out, was instrumental in pushing through UN Security Council Resolution 1559, which forced Syria out of Lebanon. In addition, it was a key force behind the establishment of the commission of inquiry into the assassination of former Lebanese prime minister Rafik Hariri, who was a personal friend of French President Jacques Chirac.

That assassination poisoned the relations between Chirac and Syrian President Bashar Assad.

In addition, France is expected to vote next month for sanctions against Iran if it doesn't stop uranium enrichment. There is concern that Iran might retaliate by instructing Hizbullah to target French soldiers.

The French considerations, the officials said, were not dissimilar to the rational behind the United States' decision to not take part in the force.

Italy, on the other hand, has good relations with Syria
(...)
.................

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