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08 October 2006

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arbogast

What Colonel Lang's post fails to mention is that Israel was blatantly guilty of war crimes in its campaign against Hezbollah.

1) The thousands of bomblets that now litter Southern Lebanon.

2) Indiscriminate saturation bombing of civilian centers and infrastructure having nothing whatever to do with Hezbollah.

W. Patrick Lang

Arbogast

Yes. I did fail to mention that. I try to make my comments as analytically neutral on matters of inhumanity as I can manage.

I leave the rest to you. pl

zanzibar

Nir Rosen's perspective.

Hizb Allah, Party of God

In the wake of Israel's 33-day war with Hizballah, the 24-year-old Islamic movement has become the most popular political party in the Middle East. Here’s why that shouldn’t worry us.

Jaime Gormley

The Israeli's lost in Lebanon. This is so.

Anyone who's had the enlightening experience of reading Maj. Christopher Whiting's 2001 Masters Thesis "When David Became Goliath" for the U. S. Army Command and General Staff College would've been shocked and surprised if there had been any other resolution to the conflict. Maj. Whiting's insights, organization and writing are in a class by themselves. The application of these skills to this particular subject makes the work a major treasure in the literature of this sorry affair. Don't take my word for it. Tole lege:
http://www.d-n-i.net/fcs/pdf/whitting_1.pdf

It remains for future excavators of the regions troubles to mine, refine and forge other artifacts of enlightenment on two subjects:

1. The degradation of the IDF consequent to it's multigenerational role enforcing the occupation of Palestinian territories acquired in '67.

2. The degradation of the IDF consequent to it's increased reliance on the spurious revolution in military affairs and primacy of military hardware over people and ideas.

Thank you for directing our attention to the recent installment of the Israeli-Hizb'Allah conflict. I believe it to be the most important and illustrative conflict on the planet. But that's just me.

zanzibar

It is to be expected that "Israeli and associated political warfare is trying to spin this set of defeats into victory".

What choice does the propaganda machine have? The combatants know the results. The spin is for the consumption of the American public to continue to support the Israeli ME project. The Israeli and ME public have a far better understanding of the outcome of the recent IDF-HA conflict.

We did have a thread sometime back "what benefit does the US derive from its absolute support of Israel". Israel and its backers in the US don't want an open debate here on what is the US national interest in the ME and where does Israel fit in that.

When "realism" in policy returns to the US, we'll see if such a debate occurs. I am not holding my breath.

zanzibar

I was struck by this comment.

"They don't attempt adventures. They're not adventurous types," Goksel said. In every operation, they would project "what it means for Shiites, what it means for the party, what it means for Lebanon, what it means for Syria."

Was it just a miscalculation on HA's part or was there a strategic rationale that we don't know yet?

arbogast

I have now read Shadid's article in the Washington Post.

It is monstrous. It is a loathsome abomination that, I believe, was written at Mossad headquarters.

The thrust of the article is that Hezbollah incorrectly predicted Israel's response to its seizing of two Israeli soldiers, and, in doing so, inflicted on itself a military and political defeat.

Colonel Lang has dealt with the issue of whether Hezbollah was defeated.

We come then to Hezbollah's miscalculations. In the first place, it must be stated clearly and emphatically that Hezbollah's firing rockets into civilian centers in Israel is a war crime. It is an act of terror. There is no justification for it.

But Israel's "response" dwarfs into insignificance any action by Hezbollah. Israel has committed war crimes in Lebanon, war crimes that should be punished under international law. Halutz should be in jail.

The article parrots the original Israeli line: "We will force Lebanon to turn against Hezbollah by indiscriminant bombing of civilian centers and infrastructure." It didn't work in Lebanon; it won't work in the pages of the Washington Post; and it won't work anywhere in the world outside the US and Israel.

I should add that I have attempted to follow Lebanese politics to the extent that I am able to, which is slight. It is absolutely true that Hezbollah is looked upon with some degree of distrust and enmity North of the Litani. But South of the Litani it is all the people have.

confusedponderer

Arbogast,
you left out that the bomblets were strayed when the war was basically over - in the last three to four days of the war.

http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20060919/ts_nm/mideast_lebanon_cluster_dc

The Israelis know their dud rates. I think they were aware of what they were doing.

As far as the destruction of civilian infrastructure is concerned, and of housing in face of the rapidly approaching winter, the effective mining of parts of southern lebanon suggests a concerted effort of collective punishment directed against the Lebanese people, to force them against Hezbollah. That has soundly failed.

Collective punishment is considered a warcrime in itself since 1945. Israel's bombing of Lebanon is killing inevitably, quiet and slow, but just as deliberate as, say, a mass execution of arbitrary civilians. Doing it (indiscriminately) from the air gives Israel the advantage of deniability ... 'It was a technical defect ...'

Hezbollah will recover. Israel has bought time at the expense of politically strengthening it's antagonist. It achieved no decision or solution, has wrecked political support in the world (except for the US) and have demonstrated that their army can be beat.

TheREALLuch

Being rather old-fashioned, and infantry-minded, I took it that Israel lost by the classic yardstick: Hezbollah still holds the ground.

W. Patrick Lang

arbogast

It is not as bad as that. Shadid is clever and subtle as many Arabs are. Read it again. pl

greenpiper

Addressing the 4 points you proffered here, it seems reasonable to assume that what Israel did glean from their recent war with Lebanon was needed intelligence on the strength, weaponry, and a good handle on the positioning of Hezbollah. Without disrespecting the horror of this war, one could say that Israel obtained exactly what it wanted -- good military intelligence.

W. Patrick Lang

Greenpiper

Possibilities:

1- You are an un-skilled but enthusiastic Israeli propagandist.

2- You are an idiot.

3- You are a very clever person (or dog) with a wonderful ironic sense of humor.

In any event, the Izzies will have no trouble finding them the next time pl


confusedponderer

Piper,
a four week, 15.000+ man and 350 sortie per day intelligence operation. Reconaissance by fire.

Sure, Israel had set goals: Crushing Hezbollah (-), destroying the missile threat (-), getting their two soldiers back (-) and so forth. Why? As a ruse. It was part of Israel's original plan to finally pull the rabbit out of the hat: 'Gotcha Hezbollah, it was only reconaissance, and now we know where you are ... harrr-harrr ...!'. Strategic deception.

The next attack will be even more successful.

sonic

Addressing the 4 points you proffered here, it seems reasonable to assume that what Germany did glean from their recent battle at Stalingrad was needed intelligence on the strength, weaponry, and a good handle on the positioning of the Red army.

Without disrespecting the horror of this war, one could say that Germany obtained exactly what it wanted -- good military intelligence.

Mo

An interesting read if a little confused. The writer is obviously impressed by Hizbullahs preparedness for the war, but wants to make a big deal of its failure to anticipate the response. But before I get into that, there are a couple of errors in the article I would like to point out.

Firstly, he says that after the Syrian withdrawl in September 2004, Hezbollah was left relatively isolated. If anything, Hizbullah gave the Syrians cover in Lebanon, and contrary to many claims, they would not like to see them back. Ending corruption in govt. is one of Hizbullahs main manifesto issues and a Syrian presence would scupper that.

Secondly, he says "Hezbollah's leadership sometimes waited days to evacuate the poor, densely populated neighborhood in southern Beirut that is its stronghold". This is quite profoundly untrue. 24 hours after the Israeli leaflet drop saying the area was to be bombed, Hizbullah had cleared the entire neighbourhood, and not only cleared it, but had records of where every person had gone! For evidence of that, one simply needs to look at the casulty figure from the neighborhood.

Now for the action and reaction.

Historically, Hizbullah, and especially Nasrallah, have said in open speeches, that Sharon reneged on a deal that would have seen the last of the Lebanese prisoners returned and that they would now have to capture Israeli soldiers - And it should be noted here that for all their supposed terrorist tendancies it has always been soldiers and not civlians - to bargain with.

On the 12th of July, an opportunity arose for just such a capture. What were Hizbullah's calculations for the response of such a capture?

In the article, Mr Shadid says that in a meeting on the 8th of June, Nasrallah made it clear what range of weapons Hizbullah had at its disposal. Considering the secrecy of Hizbullah and the, lets say, dubious affiliations of those he was addressing, he would only have said it so that the Israelis would know.

It has been much documented that Lebanon lost a vast amount of income as a result of the summer war, but what hasn't been documented as much is that tourism also plays a vital (if not as vital) a role in the Israeli economy. Hizbullah will have believed that the Israeli govt. would not have risked taking that kind of hit on their own economy.

We also know that Nasrallah stated, before the articles in the SF Chronicle and the New Yorker, that they knew an Israeli attack was planned for October, after the end of the tourist season.

So taking the above points into account, Hizbullah probably believed a summer war was as unappealing to Israel as it was to Lebanon and may have also believed that taking the soldiers in July may have drawn the sting out of any pretext for an October attack; Which is probably where the miscalculation comes in. What I think they underestimated was the importance of the attack, especially to the US administration and that by taking the sting out of any planned pretext for an October attack they forced the hand of those planning the attack. As a result however, it seems the Israelis were far less ready for a war than Hizbullah were!

As for an Israeli victory, I have had the figures for the loss of life and infrastructre of Lebanon against those of Israel repeated to me ad nauseam. The whole who won argument is something I now answer with two questions:
1- Of the 4000 rockets fired into Israel why are the targets of only a handful verifiable?
2- Lebanon has to mourn the people it lost and rebuild its infrastrucure. Israel has to mourn its dead but its military reputation as an unbeatable army is forever gone, its moral reputaion for its war crimes will forever haunt them and its political system is in chaos. Which position would you rather be facing?

Arbogast,
While I absolutely agree that "firing rockets into civilian centers" is wrong I would ask that perhaps you should look into where Israels major military centers are placed, and furthermore, considering a good proportion of civilian deaths in Israel were of Arabs, you should look at why that was.

If you are interested, have a look at http://www.zmag.org/content/showarticle.cfm?ItemID=10732

Because of Israel’s press censorship laws, it is impossible for the media to discuss the locations of Israel’s military installations. But according to many reports Hizbullah’s rockets were accurate enough to show that many were intended for the army’s sites in the Galilee, but considering the limitations, may not always have hit them.

Secondly, for factual reasons I would like to point out that Hizbollahs missile attacks were the response to Israel's and not vice versa. Israels "response" was to the capture of the two soldiers.

greenpiper,
Israeli has not managed to outwit, outsmart or get any kind of intelligence handle over Hizbullah in a quarter of a century. I seriously doubt a month of war, a war where they were outsmarted, out-manouvered and out-witted at every turn will fill them with any kind of confidence.

holy

my my what a lover of facts
mr. Mo let me tell u, u will have no future in the american press, don't even bother trying

zanzibar

Mo, you have some good points about if it was a miscalculation or not. One reason why the miscalculation meme has had such traction is Nasrallah's own statement that he did not expect the ferocity of the response and may have decided otherwise in hindsight. At the same time Nasrallah in a speech during the conflict mentioned the Oct surprise attack plan which was reinforced by the SF Chronicle story and others.

My sense is that the Israeli response was predicated on a) Halutz new theories of air power to bring Lebanon and HA to its knees b) Olmert/Peretz wanting to show they were tough c) Bush/Cheney believing the IDF myth and wanting a decisive military victory that they have not been able to achieve in Iraq. Its also likely that the Oct surprise plan may have some validity considering that this is an election year. If that is true then HA's pre-emptive action had some strategic basis, although the Lebanese have paid a big price. However, HA seem to have also gained politically and now have a wider ME appeal. I am not convinced this conflict is over unless Jim Baker can sow the seeds for a new beginning bringing Iran and Syria to the table. And the Likudniks can be kept at bay.

Will

I haven't read Shadid yet but know he is strong per his name(Arabic Shadid=strong).

Wikipedia, like the U.S. Congress is Israel occupied territory. After the Col.'s Tabouleh line analysis, it was clear who won. I started making edits to the WP article only to get reversed or watered down. First former defense minister Moshe Arens said Israel lost. Deleted, not notable, who cares what HE thinks? Then Bush makes his comments and is contradicted by his own staff, CBS runs a report on that. CBS gets deleted. Brig Gen Ilan Harari (same name as Rafik Harari?) makes a statement, we lost the war, gets fired. I say he made an admission, war was lost. It gets edited no admission, he just voiced opinion. Same thing when right winger Major Gen. Ron-Tal says "we did not win the day" and in so many words Halutz AND Olmert should quit. Oh the Arents quote finally got back in when he called for a state inquiry on why they lost the war.

The article has HA strength from 5,000 to 20,000. I tried to explain to the dumbxss editors about the concept of metaArmy (that i learned about here) but it's beyond them. HA core fighters were helped by ordinary people, villiage militias, the right of the people to bear arms.

Here is the relevant wiki part FYI (I am trying to encourage people to become editors)

" On 12 September, former defense minister Moshe Arens spoke of "the defeat of Israel" in calling for a state committee of inquiry. He said that Israel had lost "to a very small group of people, 5000 Hezbollah fighters, which should have been no match at all for the IDF," and stated that the conflict could have "some very fateful consequences for the future." Disclosing his intent to shortly resign, Ilan Harari, the IDF's chief education officer, stated at a conference of senior IDF officers that Israel lost the war, becoming the first senior active duty officer to publicly state such an opinion.[154] IDF Major General Yiftah Ron Tal, on Oct 4, 2006 became the second and so far the highest ranking serving officer to express his opinion that the IDF failed "to win the day in the battle against Hizbollah," as well as calling for Lt. Gen. Dan Halutz' resignation.[155] Ron-Tal was subsequently fired but not because of statements regarding the actual Lebanon conflict, but because he said that it was a mistake to disengage from the Gaza strip and evacuate the settlers of Gush Katif.[156][Gaza stuff is pure Likud POV pushing]

US President George W. Bush questioned Hezbollah's declarations of victory "when at one time [they] were a state within a state, safe within southern Lebanon, and now [they're] going to be replaced by a Lebanese army and an international force."[157] It seems unlikely, however, that the army or the international force will attempt to disarm Hezbollah "
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2006_Israel-Lebanon_conflict

Something that is very very important and that is not getting play is this. Dan Halutz, the IDF chief of staff, went to Olmert on DAY SIX and told him we have achieved all our obectives. I take that to mean that they had hit all of their bombing aim points. Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni wanted then to start working on a way out which would have been a U.N. ceasefire resolution. This was vetoes by Olmert. IMHO opinion this was influenced by Bush who wanted to keep the war going for his own reason.

Militarily, I've seen articles by Z. Schiff in Haaretz that the way to attack the HA fortifications is the way the Marines dealt with the Japanese in Iwo Jima by asphyxiating them with fire or thermobaric weapons. i don't know wheter that would work b/c they have blast doors and air conditioning?

As far as the French having tanks, Mon Diew, the nuclear powered aircraft carrier le General Charles de Gaulle is sitting off the coast and was flying patrols over the million person victory rally.

One more comment in this lengthy post, while I was surfing today. I came upon an interesting comment about proxy wars. It is often said that HA is a proxy for Iran. This blog mentioned that one Col. Lang had remarked that at Yorktown the French troops outnumbered tha Americans 2:1 {?}, had all the artillery, had just defeated the Brits in a naval battle offshore, and had 25,000 troops in the flotilla. No wonder Lord Cornwallis surrendered. The blog went on to say the Brits considered the rebellious colonists proxies for the French totalirian state which was just using them as payback for the Seven Years War. How about that.

PREVIOUS BUSINESS: I corresponded with Professor Juan Cole regarding whether the Shiites respected the Hashemite Kings of Jordan. He said it was laughable. If you recall in the Clean Break Paper written for Israel PM Nyetanyahu by Messrs Wurmser (and wife), Perle, Colbert, Feith, the NeoKons advocated that the Hashemite King of Jordan take over Iraq because as a descendant of the prophet he would be greatly respected by the Shia. ditto for Hizbollah. In their ignorance they did not realize he was Sunni and descended from the grandson Hassan and not the other grandson Husain revered by the Shia

Just to think Feith was No. 3 at the Pentagon. Well he's the idiot that disbanded the Iraki Army. Enough Said!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Question for Professor Lang (taught at West Point)
How in the dickens do persons like Wolfowitz and Feith become No. 2 and No. 3 having command authority at the Pentagon (The House of War) without ever having served a day in the military???

Best Wishes

"

VietnamVet

The failure of the Israeli Lebanon invasion has had profound repercussions. Muslims now have a template to stop Western Army invasions or cultural infiltrations from Jews in Palestine to Thais in Malay Peninsula; if they organize, dig tunnels and tap petro-dollars.

Israel is out of the Iranian Air Campaign. For the USA, other than addled ideologues, “Shock and Awe”, aerial warfare on the cheap, is an abject failure. Oil traders have decided that Iranian oil supplies will be stable for a while longer; gasoline prices crashed in the US.

Bludgeoned by the Mark Foley Boy Sex Scandal and Woodward’s “State of Denial”, the inside beltway pundits have turned. Iran may be the last card the Neo-Con’s can deal, but this time the pundits will point out that it is a Joker. The next month watch to see if the Iranian October Surprise is dealt or not.

James Pratt

If the reports are true that the IDF and Pentagon planned the Lebanon campaign last winter as a rehearsal for a regime change through bombing
effort against Iran then the failure to destroy Hizb Allah may have spared (for a while at least)American lives in 3 or 4 figures and Iranian lives in 5 or 6 figures. As it stands the assertion by President Bush that Iran is seeking nuclear weapons remains unproven, as reported by the IAEA. It seems to me a good idea to remember that the instrument used by Iran to organize Hizb Allah in the early 80's was the al-Dawa party of Iraq.
My theory of why Nasrullah gambled on the capture of the two IDF soldiers is that he came under pressure to act from the relatives of the hundreds of 'administrative detainees' that the Israelis have captured in Lebanon in earlier years, who sought an exchange as has happened before. They could have been inspired
because of the previous capture of the one IDF observation post guard in Gaza.

zanzibar

OT. North Korea claims successful nuclear test.

North Korea says it has carried out its first ever test of a nuclear weapon, the state news agency has reported.

It said the underground test, done in defiance of international warnings, was a success and had not resulted in any leak of radiation.

A South Korean official said an explosion had been detected in the north-east of North Korea, measuring 3.5 on the Richter scale.

arbogast

Everyone:

Is this the casus belli?

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/10/08/AR2006100800267.html

If ever a government needed a casus belli, the Bush administration does.

Mo's comments about Hezbollah's targeting of their missiles is accurate. Mo, is it not the case that the majority of the casualties caused by Hezbollah's missiles were military? Perhaps that is the key point.

Leila

I still wonder, based on pure feminine intuition, if the Foleygate scandal didn't arise from an inside-Washington desire to sabotage the Iran war planned for this month. CIA guys mad about recent Bushco backstabbing and determined to prevent another Iraq debacle? True-blue conservatives sick of Bushco adventurism? Top brass in the military worried about the strategy and the health of the armed forces? All of the above?

Because the Foley material seems to have been leaked by Republicans. And it was leaked just in time to blow the Iranian project out of the water (although it's only October 9, there's still time).

In Harpers Mag. for this month, Daniel Ellsberg calls for some honorable insider to blow the whistle on the impending Iran operation. When I read that, I immediately thought of Foleygate. Could it be the response?

I'm just a housewife and novelist in California, so I have no way of investigating this. Don't know if we'll ever know. But my "subtle, clever Arab mind" sees a possibility.

confusedponderer

Will,
"Just to think Feith was No. 3 at the Pentagon. Well he's the idiot that disbanded the Iraki Army. Enough Said!!!!!!!!!!!!!"

Well, the point I like to make here is that Feith has been lurking in the national security establishment and the pro-Israel business for at least two decades. That does mean he had a lot of time to form his opinions, allegiances and ultimately ideas about policy.
From his buddies he was almost certainly familiar with ideas like Yinon's plan to split Iraq, and other fantastic schemes. I think the idea to dissolve the Iraqi army orginates from two *convictions*:

First - in WW-II the US dissolved the Wehrmacht and the SS in Germany, and alas, it worked, so it will work in Iraq as well [except for the difference in troop levels, made irrelevant by the beliefs that (a) RMA changed everything and (b) the Iraqis would greet the US with flowers anyway].
Not only dissolving the army, but banning Baathists from public office, they clearly wanted to purge the Baathists. De-baathification and de-nazification and the related 'screening' are too similar to be an accident, and iirc administration babbling explicitly referred to the (successful) occupation of Nazi Germany as a model for Iraq. To me this underlines the perils of making ill-informed historical analogies, like simply using the occupation of Nazi-Germany as a template for Iraq.

Second, if it fails and Iraq breaks up - nothing is lost because that would still benefit America's splendid little ally - and so benefitting the US as well. I take as a given that Feith is intimately familiar with the sort of 'Grand(iose) Strategy' cooked up in (pro-)Likudnik quarters. But still, if anything, Yinon's idea was only the back-up plan.

I think that's the way of thinking that made Feith make this decision. Plus, I presume it that he had explicit instructions from the VP and the Pentagon. I fear the only thing nefarious in this decisionmaking process is the degree of arrogance, wishful thinking and utter ignorance involved.

My interpretation is of course circumstantial, and I might well be wrong, but I find it plausible.

still working it out

If they do not admit they lost then there can be no examination of the causes and changing tactics for next time.

I guess Israeli's are now secure enough of their own continued existence that they can afford a little bit of self delusion like every other country. This kind of denial would have been unthinkable in Israel in the 1970's.

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