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19 August 2006

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Friendly Fire

Losing against the Sunni in Iraq, cave-in, meet the new Saddam very shortly.

Ash

"A newly appointed government led by two inexperienced leaders had a war suddenly thrust upon it."

The linchpin upon which all justifications groan along in their indefatigable way.

I suppose that Hamas is really what 'forced' the Israelis hand. But their hand is so easily forcable, isn't it? Any sense that anyone else is making progress MUST mean that Israel might be disadvantaged in some way, and therefore they HAVE to attack.

Hey! It's been working great since '48, so why fix it if it ain't broke?

pbrownlee

"American initiative and international backing... My guess is that this time it would be much easier".

Really? Tim Hames's Times leader should not be taken as gospel -- although it has taken off in the Falangist blogosphere and, of course, all NewsCorp blats. (Remember, this is the same Tim Hames who predicted in The Times in October 2004 that "by the end of this year, the US elections will have concluded, Israel will have started to pull out of Gaza, and the Hamas hierarchy will have been broken beyond repair".)

With friends (and judgements) like this, who needs Hizbullah?

Mr Hames seems to be a leading exponent (for the time being) of the "Sunni Salvation" theory (see http://henrythornton.com/article.asp?article_id=4229 ).

Are we going to see yet another Shah of Shahs farce? And then total bewilderment when the Sunni regimes we cosset collapse and the Sunni survivors do not love us overmuch?

Perhaps Saddam could set us straight on all this.

Grimgrin

How do you say "And as long as I'm dreaming, I'd like a pony" in Hebrew?

Off the top of my head, Mr. Kimche makes 6 glaring errors in this piece.

First he asserts that Israel won on the battlefield but was "convinced" it lost by skilled propaganda. That doesn't even pass the laugh test, as I'm sure everyone here knows. A war is not a boxing match. The winner is the one who accomplishes their goals, not the one who scores the most hits.

Second he asserts that this was a war suddenly thrust upon Israel. This is an utter lie. Israel was planning a war in southern Lebanon for years and had even been planning operations with the U.S. .Of course this lie is necessary to bolster the first, because if he admits that it was a long planned war then it becomes harder to pretend that they won this round.

Third, it's somewhat ironic that in a piece titled "Put Away the long knives", the author spends three paragraphs blaming the previous Israeli Government and the army for their performance in this war. After he just got through telling us that Israel won on points. "We didn't loose, and anyway, it's not our fault we lost" is a succinct way of putting it.

Fourth he conflates the opinions held by the leadership of the Arab world with the populace. The Arab heads of state are probably less worried about Iranian hegemony, and more worried about their own positions if militias patterned on Hezbollah spread through the region.

Fifth, he declared that Christians and Sunni are convinced they have to "Go on the offensive". Really? Against a group that just fought Israel to a standstill? He persists in talks about the Christians and Sunni Muslims as if the war had done nothing to shape their opinions about Israel, Hezbollah and the west. "Do we want Rivera or a bunker", given that the Rivera just got blown up by Israeli jets, I'd imagine the bunker, and Hezbollah with it is looking pretty good to citizens on the ground.

Finally he talks about the need for a new peace process. He doesn't seem to realize that the terms an invincible Israel got from Arab heads of state are not likely to be the same as the terms that will be offered to an Israel that's been beaten on the battlefield by a homegrown army.

The idea that Syria and Iran would agree to disarm the most effective opponent to Israel and America for a vague notion of rejoining the international community, again doesn't pass the laugh test.

Mr. Lang, I remember you saying to watch the length of posts, so if you like you can replace this comment with "The article is delusional bullshit from start to finish".

yathrib

Could the Americans pull [a Madrid] off again? My guess is that this time it would be much easier. It could be a coup for American policy in the Middle East.

Seriously, what diplomatic feats have the Americans pulled off lately?

Mo

Erm, what does one say to that? A peice of delusion, wishful thinking and propaganda which at least leads to a final suggestion that is unusually unbeligerent (and perhaps, as it is aimed at an Israeli leadership, the earlier parts are to soften up the blow of the final paragraph?)


It starts off rather overdramatically, a political crisis being portrayed as the "War of the Jews"? In other countries its a simple vote of confidence in parliament (something the Israelis have done many times). Have they become so belligerent that everything has to be a war?

"We won on points on the battlefield"? If he is including the attacks on civilians and infrastructure maybe. But taking the boxing analogy further, most of their shots would have been considered below the belt in that case.

And then his credentials become clear when he says its the army's fault. But, hey, if they won on the battlefield why is oanyone at war? What country ever held a commision of inquiry after winning a war?
War, as they say, is far too important to be left to the military.

Finally, his assement of the Arab world. Note he doesn't say the Sunni population is threatened but the regimes. Not the Sunni, Christian and Druze populations of Lebanon but the leaders. And to be fair, these leaders all have something to fear from Hizbollahs success. The Arab leaders have populations looking at them with angry, disdainful eyes. The Lebanese leaders, who have long enriched themselves through extortion and corruption, will be worried that a stronger Hizbollah threatens their incomes.

As for Madrid II and the ability and desire of this administration to do it. Has this guy even been on Planet Earth for the last 6 years? Does he know who is running the White House and what their agenda is? Bush agreeing to force the leaders into peace talks is as likely as North Korea and Iran hosting the next CND summit.

ClaudeB

This op-ed probably explains what I've seen on Saturday night's France 2 newscast, "le 20 heures".

They ran a 30-second voice-over (3rd item in the lineup) where the anchor makes a show with the 50-man platoon landing, with a destroyer in the background, at Naqouba (seen internationally). described by Françoise Laborde, the anchor, as part of UNIFIL+. BUT, the trucks and light APCs were green with an hastily (and recently painted) "UN" on the sides and only half the troops landing were wearing blue helmets. Some of the soldiers in the visual were obviously Navy, but the rest were wearing green berets and khaki (not Navy).

The anhor also made a point about a so-called "Operation Balliste", a landing party of "224 engineers with Bailey bridges under Fench command" at Beirut Harbor (no footage) and the shipment of a "250-strong complement of the 13e régiment de Génie" at their mediterranean base at Toulon. Laborde made a point of specifying this: "with over 100 trucks, bulldozers and armed vehicles" (for a 250 strong force?). The vehicles were painted green (not UN white) and marked "KFOR". That force will land in Lebanon on Thursday.

For one thing, I don't think any French Army truck will be repainted and I don't believe that a lot of the proud members of the 13e will wear blue helmets.

Here's what I think: the French will land 3,000 troops in Lebanon... with a force of 2,800 soldiers under French command (including a rapid deployment force of 1,400 in 4 warships in the coastal area) and their (so-far) classified rules of engagement and "only" 200 sacrifical lambs under the "shoot me please" UN RoE.

The reasons why are simple:

1) Israel will probably continue its probes of lebanese territory in the coming days or weeks. The French know this. The short voice-over spells this: if provoked by any party, the French Army will shoot back, whether or not the UN mandates under UNSC 1701.

2) They tried but failed to get more "robust" rules of engagement for UNIFIL. But the US or Israel blocked it. They do not want a robust peacekeeping force on the border, including anti-aircraft weaponry.

3) After the failure of the operational briefing, France turns around and makes a deal with Siniora. They'll deploy a French force under the rules of engagement they want in Lebanon. They run the Israeli blockade (not formally lifted by them) and land "operation Balliste" in Beirut. Voilà. Fait accompli.

Daniel O'Donnell

Put away the long knives, and move forward
By DAVID KIMCHE

Our latest Lebanese War has turned our entire region upside down. We in Israel are, of course, preparing for the next war, the War of the Jews. The long knives have already been sharpened.

Can we just begin by invoking Godwin's Law and say that the entire essay is therefore invalid?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Godwin%27s_Law
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Night_of_the_Long_Knives

On the other hand, I will concede that so quickly dismissing the writer and his arguments does not help the debate. So let's deconstruct the argument.

The Jerusalem Post is a conservative journal. According to one source, the writer is a career political operative of Mossad where he was a spy and coup organizer, a propagandist who frequently wrote for the J-Post under several noms de plume, and adviser at the highest level. He was one of the architects of the first Israeli invasion of Lebanon (1982) and a key player and facilitator in the American Iran-Contra affair. He was one of Ariel Sharon's closest advisers for years during Sharon's ascent to power. He has fairly recently been (still?) an arms dealer who, among other things, sells Israeli technology to China. (Side note: I wonder if that includes the American weapons technology that has been illegally transferred to China and resulted in sanctions.)

<http://www.worldpress.org/newspapers/MIDEAST/Israel_and_the_Occupied_Territories.cfm>
<http://www.washington-report.org/backissues/1091/9110029.htm>

So now that we know some of the background and ideological slant of the source, let's proceed with the deconstruction of the code.

Some of the shriller correspondents in the daily press [...]

Which is an implication that they are wrong. A further inference can be drawn that "shrill" means "from the left".

[...] share the view of the propagandists across the border that Hizbullah achieved a resounding victory [...]

Implication: The Israeli left wing and/or opponents of this latest invasion are ideologically allied with the enemy. Also, "across the border" are propagandists who therefore have an agenda and cannot be trusted to report accurately. So we know the writer is not engaging in a political dialog - he is asserting that other political voices in his country are not only invalid but allied with the enemy and thus traitorous. Shades of modern right wing politics...


[...] and they loudly proclaim that the government, therefore, must be sent packing. To those bemoaning our terrible defeat, I suggest they read an article in The Times entitled "If this was a defeat, the Israelis must be praying for a lot more of them." The article analyzes the war, and ends with the following words: "If this is a 'defeat,' then Israel can afford many similar outcomes." [...]

The writer packs many rhetorical flourishes into this small space. First he states that the opposition argument (the left) must be dismissed outright as they are patently wrong, or i.e. the right wing was right and the invasion itself was right. Not only was it right, it should be repeated as many times as necessary.

[...] There certainly was no outright victory - or defeat - in this war. We won on points on the battlefield, and Hizbullah won handsomely in the propaganda war, and perception being all-important, many people, including in Israel, are convinced that Israel suffered a terrible defeat. [...]

One must agree that under objective analysis - since neither force was defeated - the writer is correct that there was no clear winner. The statement that Israel "won on points" might be read that the IDF could claim a higher body count and greater damage inflicted, i.e. dollar value of destruction, and thus won. Claiming to win by greater count of civilian bodies is a dubious claim to victory, even though it has been used by many. The sport of boxing is not really applicable when approximately one thousand lives were lost on both sides. The writer's use of hyperbole "Israel suffered a terrible defeat" is a rhetorical tactic used again and again to actually assert the opposite point.

[...] There can be no doubt that many mistakes were made. A newly appointed government led by two inexperienced leaders had a war suddenly thrust upon it. [...]

In politics and the extension of politics by other means mistakes are frequently made. In this case though, the leaders were not "inexperienced" and thus do not deserve to be justifiably forgiven for the mistakes leading up to, during, and after the invasion. Olmert is a long time national politician, as well as a combat veteran and former officer of the IDF. Halutz is a four star general and chief of staff. If he is not experienced now, then when? By definition neither is inexperienced. Nor was the war thrust upon them. The implication here is clear - once again Israel has had no choice but to go to war to protect itself. However, the isolated incident of a commando incursion that resulted in the killing of three soldiers and the kidnapping of two more is not usually recognized as an event significant to drive two countries to war. It was a military operation and a retaliation for similar Israeli operations in southern Lebanon against its opponent Hezb'allah. And much of the world seems to think that it was far too small to warrant the many hundreds of civilian deaths caused on both sides. That is, the retaliation was out of all proportion to the single incident that supposedly "caused" it. The invasion was not thrust upon the leaders - it was an opportunity they saw and took advantage of. To prepare for and take that opportunity may be only the first mistake made by these two experienced leaders.


[...] Yet their decision to pick up the gauntlet was a correct one. [...]

Well, it was a political decision, and it was the extension of politics by other means. Whether it was correct or not remains to be seen. That is, the 1982 Lebanon invasion - of which the writer was an architect - is widely considered to be the precipitating event that created Hezb'allah. One assumes the writer still believes that his actions were correct. One wonders why he does not believe in the Law of Unintended Consequences when it can be shown so clearly that he is a leading example of it.


[...] If they had hesitated or procrastinated then Hizbullah could have justly proclaimed a real victory. The premier and his defense minister relied, correctly, on their top adviser in military affairs, the chief of staff, just as previous prime ministers and ministers of defense have done in similar circumstances. [...]

Actually, Hezb'allah had already made their demands known - they demanded the release of 9,000 Lebanese prisoners held in Israeli jails and prisons. One can assume the number was wide open for negotiation. This would certainly have been seen as a political victory for Hezb'allah, but just as certainly it would not have been seen as a victory to the degree as Hezb'allah is now seen as a victor over the Israeli forces on the battlefield. And Israel still does not have its lost soldiers back on friendly territory. Which "loss" would have been more palatable to Israel, both internally and in world opinion; and which would have actually accomplished the goal of retrieving the two kidnapped Israeli citizen soldiers. It is not hard to argue that by both sides returning their respective captives and hostages under a negotiated transfer the continued escalation of hostilities would not have happened.

But it is just as clear that this writer is not allowing for a negotiated settlement, just as he is not for any outcome that requires Israel to make any concession to any political body other than itself - be it Arab, U.N. or U.S.


[...] To my mind, both Ehud Olmert and Amir Peretz acted as they should have done, except, of course, for the silly bravado of their opening declarations, which were completely unrealistic and made the public believe that the war would be a walk-over. [...]

This is a bias according to the public political style of the writer. The politicians Olmert and Peretz had to make statements to their own constituency, to the Western world and to the Arab world that justified their actions. And based on the Arab-Israeli wars prior to Israel's 1982 invasion of Lebanon, it was easy for the Israeli population and the world to believe that the IDF would be immediately victorious. But as has been discussed elsewhere on this weblog, those wars were of a completely different nature than this one.


[...] There was, however, a great deal at fault in the army, and in the advice and assessments given to the government, and for that, neither the prime minister nor the new defense minister was to blame. [...]

The writer is angling for another shot at the top job as the head of Mossad.

[...] If at all, accusing fingers should be pointed at the previous government, and in particular at the previous defense minister and former chief of staff who allowed the army to deteriorate and who put the Hizbullah danger on the back burner. In truth, it was not entirely their fault. [...]

Does the writer refer to Ariel Sharon's government? Now that Sharon is no longer around to defend himself? And I have not seen any evidence that there was a failure of the IDF or the Israeli Air Force, that either was deteriorated. Nor is it apparent that "the Hezbollah danger" was on the back burner. The IDF had reinforced its northern border frontier with southern Lebanon, but its reliance on defeatable electronics instead of human observers was its mistake. It is also the chutzpah of the Israeli myth of infinite military and intelligence superiority. This seems to be a characteristic of both US and Israeli military and intelligence operations. Mossad is apparently no longer the brilliant intelligence agency it once was either. Again, these lines can be read as the writer angling for the job as head of Mossad or other political position.

Hezb'allah is a creation of the Israelis invasion of Lebanon in 1982. It was born under occupation and grew through childhood, adolescence and late youth learning lessons about how to deal with Israeli military, police and intelligence tactics. It should come as no surprise to anybody that now as a mature young adult it is uniquely qualified to deal with the Israeli army. No longer is Hezb'allah the apprentice learning under a hostile master - it has just proven to the world that it is the new master and has taught a lesson to the old. This is probably the greatest offense to the Israeli body politic - they are no longer hegemonic master of the region.

Also, and before the recent invasion, Hezb'allah was well on its way to becoming a factor and a force in Lebanese politics. It had elective representation in the Lebanese Parliament and a visible presence in civil society. So it had a military, political and civil structure. It was an effective state structure inside a barely functional still-recovering state. The Israeli invasion has served largely to strengthen the military and political parts of Hezb'allah, and if it functions effectively in its new civil engineering and reconstruction it may well overtake the "official" Lebanese government as the true governing force in the country. This will be despite the recognition by the rest of the world of the official government. It will be difficult to say which then is the shadow government. That is, if the shadow government is the only effective and efficient government, is the failed government actually qualified to be a government? And this is all due to the Israeli invasions. The writer seems utterly incapable of recognizing the unintended consequences of his own designs and political engineering.

[...] The army had become principally an army of occupation. Its duties could almost be likened to those of a gendarmerie, though this could hardly be said about the latest fighting in the Gaza Strip. There can be no doubt that the years of dealing with recalcitrant Palestinians have taken their toll, including on the army. [...]

It's hard to tell which units of the army the writer is referring to - the units occupying Gaza or the garrison army of northern Israel? Neither the IDF nor the US Army is prepared to handle a native insurgency and in fact Israel was not able to quell Hezb'allah during its nearly twenty years of prior occupation. So these statements seem specious. Again, one wonders if the writer has a personal agenda of higher office or position.

[...] The political fallout of the Lebanese War has, however, much wider connotations than on our own particular brand of infighting. We are not the only ones concerned with Hizbullah. The Iranian-Syrian-Hizbullah axis is seen as a danger for the Sunni regimes of our region. Their leaders have realized that, in the words of The Times article, "Jews constitute no threat to mainstream Sunni Islam. The Shi'ite challenge is another matter." [...]

Is the writer trying to reach out to the enemies of his enemies, to further the splintering of the general Muslim population? In what world are the Israelis and the Sunnis friendly?


[...] Iran, not Israel, is the danger, and Hizbullah are its shock troops. The sparring has already begun. Syrian President Bashar Assad's speech on Wednesday raised a howl of fury and protest throughout the Sunni countries. Bashar, carried away by his own eloquence, called the Arab leaders who had criticized the kidnapping of our soldiers "half men." For an Arab head of state to name Saudi, Egyptian and Jordanian leaders "half men" is really stretching diplomatic niceties to the extreme.

It seems to me that the Arabs in general use such hyperbole and flourish in speech. In fact that seems to be part of the nature of both the language and the culture. Also, the writer again uses many rhetorical tools to demonize his opponent and uses counter-propaganda in accusing the enemy leader of propaganda. Assad has made it clear that Syria wants, expects and demands no less than the return of the Golan Heights which Israel took from it and that a UN resolution has asserted must be returned.

And is the writer telegraphing a message to the Americans warning them about Iran? With the intent of pulling the Americans into a regional war?

[...] The Sunni politicians in Lebanon, grouped round the son of the assassinated former Premier Rafik Hariri, declared that Bashar's speech was "an act of war" against them, a declaration certainly not lost on their backers in Saudi Arabia and Egypt. Tensions are at boiling point in the Lebanon in the aftermath of the fighting. The Sunnis, Christians and Druze increasingly feel that they have to go on the offensive and cut Hizbullah down to size, or else risk losing the westernized, liberal, laissez faire Lebanon forever. "Do we want a Hong Kong or a Mogadishu, a Riviera or a bunker?" was the way one Lebanese Sunni put it. [...]

I question this assertion. It seems that the invasion and its aftermath has served to actually consolidate the backing of Hezb'allah by the general Lebanese population of all occupations and identities. Others may have to correct or confirm my observation here. But if true, this statement is clear disinformation - which by now is to be expected from this writer.


[...] Significantly, a leading Sunni politician observed, "The only way to prevent a nightmare is to go for a comprehensive peace process." A shrewd Lebanese politician with whom I have been speaking in the past few days is convinced that both Lebanese and Syrians would react favorably to the idea of a "Madrid Two" peace conference sponsored by the US, Europe and Russia. The Syrians are desperately keen to emerge from their international isolation and to repair their faltering economy. [...]

All these points seem reasonable. One wonders who these Sunni and Lebanese political contacts might be. And does this mean that the Israelis also are willing to negotiate for peace - despite some of the writer's previous implications that further invasions/incursions/wars by the Israelis are the best or only solution? And are the Israelis willing to give up land (Golan, Gaza, West Bank, settlements) in exchange for peace? I think not.

[...] Such a peace conference is achievable. It would need American initiative and international backing. For "Madrid One," James Baker knocked the heads together of our region's leaders to such an extent that both Hafez Assad and Yitzhak Shamir, neither of whom wanted the conference, came running to Madrid. Could the Americans pull it off again? My guess is that this time it would be much easier. It could be a coup for American policy in the Middle East. It could be a lifesaver for Lebanon. And for us, and that is what interests us the most, it could herald a whole new era in our checkered history with our neighbors. [...]

There is no doubt that all parties want peace. But what price are they willing to pay to achieve it? And to appeal for James Baker to ride to the rescue of the current Bush Administration is asking for the impossible. In reality, the writer must realize that this Administration has its own well defined and easily recognizable agenda, and political machinations by James Baker (or Brent Scowcroft, by extension) are neither solicited nor accepted. The current Administration has more than two years left in power, and the developments of Middle East negotiations for that time period are quite clear to most observers. Neither Syria nor Palestine will be included in any negotiations, nor will Iran. Without the first two participants nothing can be achieved.

[...] We should go for it, and do our utmost to persuade the Americans and others that "Madrid Two" could be the ideal sequence to that ugly war in the North. [...]

Go for what? Peace? Or just another peace conference to buy time? And in this political climate?


[...] The writer is a former director-general of the Foreign Ministry.

And a long time right wing political operative and politician and covert operator, an aspirant to return to power in Israel, and an architect and proponent of war. What exactly is this writer's agenda?

Daniel O'Donnell

I bracketed two reference URLs, which is an illegal operation on TypePad. Here are the references to slant of the Jerusalem Post, and background info on David Kimche:

http://www.worldpress.org/newspapers/MIDEAST/Israel_and_the_Occupied_Territories.cfm
http://www.washington-report.org/backissues/1091/9110029.htm

Soonmyung Hong

article link:
Put away the long knives, and move forward(David Kimche)

canuck
ClaudeB, 3) After the failure of the operational briefing, France turns around and makes a deal with Siniora.

Wouldn’t France have to make the deal with Hassan Nasrallah? I do agree France won’t commit troops to Lebanon unless there is an agreement she isn’t expected to disarm Hizbullah. The effect of the new force would be to strengthen Lebanon’s border preventing Israel’s attacks because their combined forces reinforce Hizbullah.

Israel brought this on themselves by the deaths of so many Lebanese civilians. The United States by supplying the armaments is in a weak position and won’t be able to put Humpty Dumpty back together.

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