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08 May 2008

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Sidney O. Smith III

TomB

Friday reassessment. Within the parameters you established -- an US and/or Israeli strike against Iranian nuclear facilities before the end of the Bush adm. -- I am lowering the likelihood to 35 percent from 40 per cent.

However, as for a pre-emptive strike against an al Qods camp or that of any militia within Iran, I am raising the percentage to 45 percent. This conclusion is based upon a post by Philip Giraldi at tac, among other considerations.
http://www.amconmag.com/blog/

I am also willing to venture that there is a 75 per cent probability that an attack on an al-Qods camp will take place before a strike on nuclear facilities in Iran.

The assumptions upon which I rely remain the same: some within the USG and GOI want to execute the Wurmser option or a variation thereof. The 2007 NIE blocked the early implementation of the Wurmser option. Because of the 2007 NIE, the Wurmser crowd had to change tactics. The focus has shifted (as previously described) and is summarized as follows: a direct attack on the findings of the 07 NIE as well as increased propaganda against Shiite militias in Iraq.

Of course, an addition development -- a subplot if you will -- has taken place in Beirut, as commentators at sst have described. I contend the recent battles against HA fall into the same pattern. And Cheney on his ME tour is but a "goodwill" ambassador for the Wurmser weltanschauung and those who so believe.

So intent is not an issue. It’s a pre-emptive attack on Iran. And at least at this point, I believe the desired end game -- the final act of this drama -- when viewed in its most spectacular is a massive attack on Iran, possible involving nuclear weapons.

This desire is the source of Cheney’s actions in the ME. It is the sub textual message underlying all propaganda operations against HA, Syria, and Sadr.

An attack on an al Qods camp, in my opinion, is but one step towards the end game. To borrow terminology from the work of Lajos Egri, such an attack is an incremental step and therefore doesn’t destroy the plot. In fact, it makes the end game more believable when it unfolds.

Lest we forget: an attack on al-Qods actually serves the first step of the Wurmser option. As defined by Wurmser and Cheney last fall, this option is a “limited” or low yield strike against Iran, which will cause repercussions in Iraq (and elsewhere) and thus force a massive US retaliation against Iran.

Curious

So how long did the m14 created by the neocon last?

3 yrs? at least it's longer than Ukraine. That one falls apart almost immediately, before leaning to Russia.

incidentally, excellent reporting & analysis.

http://lebanesechess.blogspot.com/2008/05/hizballah-humiliates-march-14-lebanon.html

March 14's total demise is a matter of time. Hizballah will not overthrow the government, but will simply squeeze it until it disappears. It is now utterly powerless. There is little anyone can do, save an invasion from a Western or a Sunni Arab power. Neither the US nor Israel is prepared to embark on another perilous war in Lebanon. If there is to be a military response from either of these countries, it is more probable that this time they would target the source ... Syria and/or Iran. Neither country will allow Lebanon to become a Hizballah-run state, which is exactly why the Shi'ite group will carefully seek an inclusive power-sharing system that will be mainly comprised of its aforementioned allies.

Further steps to weaken March 14 don't seem necessary. Instead, Hizballah believes that it has enough popular support across the country to drown out the pro-American coalition. It commands the support of the Shi'ite community, a large portion of the Christian community (thanks to Aoun and Franjieh), and a smaller section of the Druze and Sunni communities as a result of Arslan, the SSNP, and the few anti-Hariri Sunni clans. In addition, the Opposition also retains the majority support of the 350,000 Palestinian Sunnis holed up in armed refugee camps.

Curious

The m14 gov. is already gone. And they want to schedule meeting what to do? (that will take what? another 3-4 days + coordinating announcement? )

By then Hezbollah would have announce a new coalition government backed by the military.

This will be the very first time hezbollah is showing their political skill at national level.


http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/05/09/AR2008050902628.html

The Bush administration has been scrambling to mobilize international support for the beleaguered government of Prime Minister Fouad Siniora. Rice spoke to Siniora as well as U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and the French and Saudi foreign ministers. The Arab League announced an emergency meeting Sunday to discuss the crisis, with the State Department calling on the regional body to show its displeasure with Hezbollah and its sponsors.

The Bush administration has spent $1.3 billion over the past two years to prop up Siniora's government, with about $400 million dedicated to boosting Lebanon's security forces. But Washington's assistance has been put in check by Hezbollah -- the Shiite militia trained, armed and financed by Iran and Syria -- which has the Siniora government under virtual siege.

Along with Iraq and the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, Lebanon has been central to the administration's Middle East agenda, especially in promoting democracy. Bush had been scheduled to meet with Siniora in Cairo at the end of his Middle East tour, but it is now unclear whether Siniora will be able to leave Beirut. The airport and port are closed.

"Clearly, Bush has a two-header now. He'll have to explain away the lack of progress on the peace process, and a crisis in Lebanon that could see the collapse of the Siniora government. It comes at a time when the news from Iraq is as gloomy as ever and oil prices have reached $126 a barrel," said Geoffrey Kemp, a Reagan administration National Security Council staffer who worked on Lebanon during the Shiite takeover of West Beirut in 1984.

arthurdecco

Hezbollah's raison d'erte is purportedly "resistance" to Israel - without an enemy, what exactly is Hezbollah's purpose? ISTM Hezbollah has as much incentive - if not more - as Cheney to derail any agreement between Syria and Israel. Posted by: Andy

If you were here, I’d be laughing derisively at you for your preposterous claim that Israel is no longer Hezbollah’s enemy. That typed opinion has to be the effect of either serious abuse of prescription drugs or the ingestion of copious amounts of single malt Scotch.

And then Andy, you said: “Maybe you are right and this telecom kerfluffle was instigated by Cheney - That Nasrallah rose to such easy bait only shows his capacity for strategic blunder for which many of his constituents and non-Hezbollah Lebanese may have to pay.”

Easy bait?!? Strategic blunder? To ever think the leader of Hezbollah could acquiesce with the dismantlement of their secure communications network is beyond delusional. That’s not “Easy bait”. That’s a matter of life and death.

Nice call about Nasrallah’s ‘strategic blunder’, btw. …Oh? …You were wrong? …Again?!?

Whoops...

TomB

Sidney:

Well I for sure appreciate your calibratin' (keeps me up on things), but I'm bleary after a long day wrestling some very smart alligators and I think I'm missing something. To wit:

On the one hand you say the odds of a nuke strike have gone down. But you then say you believe it more likely that a Quds strike will take place so very possibly provoking the Iranians and furnishing us with a casus belli to launch a nuke strike, right?

So how do you simultaneously raise the odds of a Quds strike/retaliation and casus belli, yet lower the odds of a casus belli/nuke strike? Do you just believe those perfidious Persians will refuse to be provoked by a Quds strike? (And we won't fib about it and launch a big strike anyway?) Or am I missing something else?

I dunno, but even in the face of that Giraldi thing I'm still hanging tough with you saying no big strike by us or the I's. Indeed like you (right?) I also see this Lebanon stuff as just decreasing the chances. And whether at 40% of 35%, that'd be in my profoundly uneducated, rough guess range too.

Olmert is in deep corruption trouble and weak; I would think the Israelis would anyway just be watching this Lebanon stuff first just to see how it plays out and fearful that if they make the wrong move on Iran it could trigger a total war in Lebanon and maybe even the need for a big occupation of same they don't want right now; I just read some stuff on the LA Times about how some dog and pony show the army was gonna give in Iraq about Iranian weapons fell humiliatingly through for want of any actual Iranian weapons to show (duh), and blah blah blah.

Plus, just the general gestalt impression I get is that we've seen the high tide of our adventurism for now. Bush and his admin just seem too out of energy and exhausted and his opposition in the permanent gov't too strong. The new NIE comes out, lots in the Pentagon feel that we're already stretched too thin and gotta have their hair on fire at the idea of provoking Iran to retaliate at us in Iraq, there's that lack of evidence of Iranian weapons, lots of the neo-cons have fled the Admin., the other Gulf states can't look favorably on now stirring up Iran, oil prices are already sky high and the economy is already having a hard time, and more blah blah blah.

In short I think the hot-ish rhetoric we've seen in the past few weeks has been part lame try, part frustration, and part pure gas. And I'm always suspicious of seeing hyper-calculating, finely crafted machinations at every turn on the part of any big enterprise. (Which can be so contradictory too if on the other hand one is also saying they're fundamentally, substantively stupid, which in the case of Bush/Cheney we mostly are.)

It's weird (maybe our susceptibility to pattern recognition and mis-recognition), but what so often at first looks Machiavellian turns out to be nothing but sheer oafishness. E.g., not every blade of grass is a grassy knoll. Or, like a plaque I have says Santayana said: "The workings of great institutions is mainly the result of routine, petty malice, self-interest, carelessness, and sheer mistake. Only a residual fraction is thought."

Of course this could be wrong, and I'm struck that maybe my sense of all this is fatally blinded by my belief that any kind of strike on Iran would be, as another poster in a past thread so well put it, "simply insane." But insane things happen all the time. Still, I'll go with my gut, esp. since you and so many others seem to agree. (Which means you and all those others oughta immediately renounce your past opinions if you had any sense.)

And moreover I'm just kinda sick not only at all this but sick at heart about it too. Okay, even if we don't hit Iran and even if we get out of Iraq so what? I don't see Iraq as some discrete thing anyway, more like some ... metastatic phenomenon. I.e., not the tar baby itself, just a big blob from the baby we're still clutching, pretty sure to mean more big blobs our way no matter who our Fearless Leader is at the time and almost no matter how much they don't want it. Israel has gotten itself into a helluva pickle over the last forty years with those damn territories and now the chickens are coming home to roost and the simple fact is we won't let 'em, fully. But they're gonna keep coming, and given technology maybe they're gonna be of the cataclysmic variety.

Not the nicest Middle East eschatology, but in my pessimistic moments I have a hard time seeing the odds of it ending peacefully as better than the odds of it ending in some terrible, paroxysmal way. (With us very possibly being involved.) Like some instances in history (the U.S. Civil War?) in which it can seem in retrospect that of course only some chastening calamity was gonna settle things.

I ain't predictin' that with the ME though: impinges on my ex post facto bloviation ability, and I'm too tired to boot.

Cheers,

Cold War Zoomie

Wash Post article:

Fighting in Beirut Threatens a Top Bush Administration Priority

Bush Admin is one big goat rodeo. But with deadly consequences.

January 2009 cannot come fast enough.

Andy

Arthurdecco,

To begin with, the only response I'll proffer to the personal insults directed at me in your comment is to suggest that they are actually more reflective of your character than mine. I will try to address what substance there is in your comment and attempt to dispel your misinterpretations and/or misconceptions on what I wrote as well as elaborate further. In doing so, I should note that Col. Lang kindly wrote me the other day and suggested I did not understand Lebanon. He very well may be right. So in order to settle matters and in addressing your criticisms, arthurdecco, I'll "bet my bars" and lay out my reasoning on the current situation and open myself for judgment on the issue.

To begin with, I did not say, as you put it, that "Israel is no longer Hezbollah's enemy." Of course they are enemies. My argument was about Hezbollah's justification for its special status and powerful militia as necessary to both deter Israel and continue the "divine resistance" against Israel. My argument was that Hezbollah's justifications have grown weaker every year since Israel withdrew in 2000 and now that they've used their resistance forces against fellow Lebanese, their justifications are gone altogether. Who will believe that they are the guardians of Lebanon now that they have done this?

Easy bait?!? Strategic blunder? To ever think the leader of Hezbollah could acquiesce with the dismantlement of their secure communications network is beyond delusional. That’s not “Easy bait”. That’s a matter of life and death.

Matter of life and death? Really? Who on this green earth believes that such a threat could ever have been carried out? "Threat" is often defined as intent multiplied by capability. M14 had zero capability to force Hezbollah to do, well, anything actually, so the threat this actually posed to Hezbollah C2 was zero regardless of intent.

Rather than any real threat, M14's provocation was a political maneuver and a pretty dumb one at that. Any "threat" therefore was political and was really about trying to box Hezbollah in politically than anything to do with its C2 system. That Hezbollah reacted to a political threat with military force is part of why I believe their reaction was a blunder. Hezbollah had a range of options for dealing with this provocation - why did it choose this particular course of action, one that will incur costs over the long term and required Nasrallah to go against his word about not using resistance forces in this way? If you or anyone else can make an argument showing why Hezbollah had no choice but to respond the way they did, then I would like to hear it. I find it hard to believe Hezbollah's political position was so tenuous that the only option was resort to force.

Based on my reading of a variety of Lebanese opinion on all sides, its seems that Hezbollah supporters are currently basking in the afterglow of its accomplishment. One thing I will commend them for is the discipline of their forces which I think partially accounts for the relatively low number of causalities and damage wrought by their incursions into Beirut and other areas. It also appears to me from the swift reaction and excellent execution that Hezbollah had contingency planned this operation. Its supporters seem to think this is just the ticket that will break the political impasse of the past three years. Judging by the comments of their opponents, I think they are wrong and that political consensus cannot be achieved from the barrel of a gun.

I think in time events will show that Hezbollah overreacted and they will pay a price for doing so. This Daily Star editorial provides some hope that Nasrallah is the genius he is claimed to be and that this was all part of a larger plan. I'm skeptical, but hopeful:

Hizbullah and its partners have frequently argued that their counterparts in the March 14 Forces coalition were not interested in true partnership, only in dictating terms. Now Nasrallah has to prove that his side is ready, willing and able to live up to its own expectations, and speed is of the essence: After 15 years of civil war, 15 of diluted sovereignty, and three of limbo, the Lebanese deserve at last to have a level of politics commensurate with their talents and energies. If Nasrallah is the man who makes this happen, history will judge his actions to have been a revolution, not a coup, and a long-overdue one at that.

It is difficult for me to see how he can do this given that suspicions of Hezbollah's motives have been confirmed in the minds of many over the last few days.

As for my statements about Hezbollah wanting to torpedo a separate agreement between Syria and Israel, after further thought I see I cannot provide much basis for that theory given my ignorance on the scope and nature of Hezbollah's relationship with Syria. If someone can make an informed comment, I would be much appreciative.

arthurdecco

ad: Thank you for your thoughtful rebuttal to my short-tempered response to one of your earlier posts, Andy. With Col. Lang’s indulgence, I’d like the opportunity to respond.
Andy: “arthurdecco, To begin with, the only response I'll proffer to the personal insults directed at me in your comment is to suggest that they are actually more reflective of your character than mine.”
ad: You’re correct - they are, although it wasn’t your character I was impugning with my incautious use of language – it was your opinions.
Andy: “To begin with, I did not say, as you put it, that "Israel is no longer Hezbollah's enemy." Of course they are enemies. My argument was about Hezbollah's justification for its special status and powerful militia as necessary to both deter Israel and continue the "divine resistance" against Israel. My argument was that Hezbollah's justifications have grown weaker every year since Israel withdrew in 2000…”
Ad: Whoa, back up a bit…Did you sleep through the summer of 2006 like some kind of political Rip Van Winkle? Don’t be absurd.
Andy: “and now that they've used their resistance forces against fellow Lebanese, their justifications are gone altogether. Who will believe that they are the guardians of Lebanon now that they have done this?”
ad: I believe Hizbollah are the guardians of Lebanon precisely because they have used their resistance forces against these particular fellow Lebanese, Andy. If it can be proved that Hizbollah’s actions over the past week or so were a pragmatic and strategic reaction to violent, external threats, then your argument becomes moot. The Lebanese that Hizbollah confronted over the past days are in cahoots, (and in the pay) of “foreign interests”. Shouldn’t that make them a target for arrest and charges of treason by the Lebanese government rather than the beneficiary of uncritical support from our governments…or you? And you make it sound like Hizbollah stands alone and isolated on this issue. Nothing could be further from the truth. From what I’ve been able to find out, a substantial majority of Lebanon’s citizens support the political aims of Hizbollah and its allies and agree with their assessment that still Israel poses a threat to Lebanon that Hizbollah effectively counters. Lebanese from all factions and strata of their society.
ad, from an earlier post: “Easy bait?!? Strategic blunder? To ever think the leader of Hezbollah could acquiesce with the dismantlement of their secure communications network is beyond delusional. That’s not “Easy bait”. That’s a matter of life and death.”
Andy: “Matter of life and death? Really? Who on this green earth believes that such a threat could ever have been carried out? "Threat" is often defined as intent multiplied by capability. M14 had zero capability to force Hezbollah to do, well, anything actually, so the threat this actually posed to Hezbollah C2 was zero regardless of intent.”
ad: The threat didn’t have to be carried out to be effective. The purpose of making the threat was to get Hizbollah to overreact. And to set the stage for future foreign intervention.
This ridiculous demand was the initial step down the road to simultaneous military assaults on Hizbollah, Hams, Syria and Iran. The point wasn’t to dismantle Hezbollah’s fibre optic communications network immediately. The purpose was to convince enough of their international political partners that it was necessary to eventually do so. You, yourself said, “Any "threat" therefore was political and was really about trying to box Hezbollah in politically than anything to do with its C2 system.”
Andy: “That Hezbollah reacted to a political threat with military force is part of why I believe their reaction was a blunder. Hezbollah had a range of options for dealing with this provocation…”
ad: I’d like to hear your ideas on what range of realistic options Hezbollah had for dealing with this provocation. Honestly.
Andy: “…I think in time events will show that Hezbollah overreacted and they will pay a price for doing so. This Daily Star editorial provides some hope that Nasrallah is the genius he is claimed to be and that this was all part of a larger plan. I'm skeptical, but hopeful:
‘Hizbullah and its partners have frequently argued that their counterparts in the March 14 Forces coalition were not interested in true partnership, only in dictating terms. Now Nasrallah has to prove that his side is ready, willing and able to live up to its own expectations, and speed is of the essence: After 15 years of civil war, 15 of diluted sovereignty, and three of limbo, the Lebanese deserve at last to have a level of politics commensurate with their talents and energies. If Nasrallah is the man who makes this happen, history will judge his actions to have been a revolution, not a coup, and a long-overdue one at that.’
It is difficult for me to see how he can do this given that suspicions of Hezbollah's motives have been confirmed in the minds of many over the last few days.”
ad: Whose minds? What suspicions?
Why aren’t you paying attention to the facts on the ground? They paint a different picture than the one you’re working on here, Andy. No offense intended.

Honestly.

(It's the medium - it robs us of our humour and our subtlety...)

TomB

arthurdecco wrote:

"If you were here, I’d be laughing derisively at you for your preposterous claim that Israel is no longer Hezbollah’s enemy."

What an interesting statement.

Firstly, Andy said nowhere near any such thing. So at best you innocently misread him and at worst you intentionally mis-cited him. And yet, despite the derision that either such second or third-rate behavior could provoke towards you, your assessment of your intellectual prowess is still apparently such that not only does derision for others' come so quickly to it, but that you feel advertising same brings some credit to you too.

At bottom I think most of this kind of thing stems either from some deep insecurity, or some deep frustration at never having received the full recognition from the world one feels one deserves.

The former tries to salve itself by denigrating others, and the latter tries to relieve itself the same way. The funny thing is same only tends to reinforce the underlying problem by provoking distaste for the practitioner. And they never seem to realize that there's always someone out there with lots more practiced and sharper tongues than their own.

Cheers,

confusedponderer

Walrus,
Your point with supply lines is well taken.

However, from Cheney's view civil war in Lebanon on Hezbollah would probably be seen as a catalyst for a number of other in his view synergetic policy visions he pursues. He is playing a policy of tension. The synergetic effects would be:

1. It would benefit the R-election campaign. The disaster in Iraq nonwithstanding, the R's have branded themselves successfully as being be 'tough on defense'. Cantancerous McCain is a hawk. As for his foreign policy vision, I expect little change. In any case, McCain will be more credible that 'softie' Obama to promise tougness and security in face of a blazing Middle East crisis.
2. Indeed, Olmert is getting soft on Syria as well, and Cheney and his neo-con buddies cannot possibly like to see that. Their ally Netanyahu is certainly more than willing to give Olmert the coup de grace, for the greater good of Greater Israel, not to mention personal ambition.
3. Then there are Cheney's grand stragegereric visions over the Middle East - he wants to deal with Sadr, Iran and Hezbollah in a violent way, to solve the problem once and for all - he wants the 'Endsieg'.
3a. Cheney has regime change on his mind, and he believes in the utility of force towards that end.
3b. Alternatively, if that fails, it will eat least increase tension. If need arises, the resulting conflict can be used to argue the case for an anti-Shia/Syria alliance even stronger, which will cement US involvement in the region and the balance of powers in the region.
4. I doubt the Cheneyites really trust 'Maverick' McCain and want to bind him as much as the possible Obama and limit their future policy choices by creating facts on the ground now.
5. I am certain Cheney has a to-do list to work down, and he will do so with great skill and persistency. Rice is still barely able to contain him, and Gates is getting more quiet either. Cheney has managed to resurface as the dominant force in the Buch cabinet. And it would be mistaken to believe that it is just him. The workshare agreement between him and Jr. is that Cheney does all of the dirtier things Bush likes to not concern himself with directly. But you bet Cheney made sure that under everything beyond internal US maneuvering there is a presidential signature.

Clifford Kiracofe

<"Is our credibility so damaged that we will not be able to play the role of honest broker and guarantor in the Israel/Palestine conflict?">

Zanzibar,

IMO the last time the US was an "honest broker" in the Middle East was Ike's Suez policy of 1956. Kennedy might have done something had he lived.

Johnson was owned by the Zionist Lobby as were various occupants of the White House that followed. Carter tried a bit with Camp David.

The deep power of the Zionist Lobby in Congress and the White House constitutes a profound structural problem in US, and international, politics.

For the US to be an "honest broker" the Zionist Lobby would have to first be taken down.

Ike cracked the whip successfully but on a very temporary basis. For starters 50 years on, this time severe counterintelligence pressure is required at home to include successful prosecutions and jail sentences. AIPAC and all similar organizations, activist and "charitable" to include Christian Zionist organizations like CUFI would have to be required to register with the Justice Department (and appropriately on Capitol Hill) as foreign agents of Israel.

But it's not going to happen. Pigs will fly first, and the world knows this. We are kidding outselves only.

"George W. Bush will be remembered for the tremendous damage he had done to the Arab world and to the United States by his war in Iraq. It will take decades to repair the damage..."
Patrick Seale at
http://www.agenceglobal.com/Article.asp?Id=1562

Sidney O. Smith III

TomB

You wrote, “Well I for sure appreciate your calibratin' (keeps me up on things), but I'm bleary after a long day wrestling some very smart alligators…”

You wraslin’ smart gators now? Then I say the following as a high compliment: when I first read some of your earlier comments, I thought that you might be a gator yourself. Hell, for a sec’, I was suspicious that you might be a U. Florida Gator, may heaven help us all.

But taking you at your word: you are a man who wrestles gators, reads the LA Times and, apparently, owns a barn. Oh yes, the Santayana plaque, which I presume means you believe in non-groupthink. You are not a cls guy, at least ostensibly, and appear to oscillate between the belief that the individual affects the historical wave to an inherence, in some shape or form, to the inexorable march. Confession: I wondered if you are familiar with 33 Dunster.

If I may, I know a little about wraslin’ gators and, based on my experience, I may as well be blunt…you are in for one long haul. As a mere metaphor, do you know how many times over the last 20 years the Florida Gators have beaten the Georgia Bulldogs? And you say that you are “bleary” and “tired”? Christ Almighty…talkin’ about a dark night of the soul and existential despair. It got so bad that once a Florida Gator said to me at a dinner party that, like that famous REM song, “I was sitting in the corner and losing my religion”. Of course everyone got a good laugh. Funny bastard. (Of course, all these years later, he isn’t so funny now, which makes me wonder what’s left if you take away the “funny”…hey, that was just a joke).

Gators…they do know how to fight. Talented too, especially them Florida gators. Even if you can trick expectations, victory against the gators is “iffy”. I’ll call it fifty-fifty at best. Don’t mean to bring on melancholy, but those are my thoughts.

Speaking of “calibratin”, you questioned my odds of war and peace in that land so holy. I must admit to you another assumption. In the Holy Land, you are wrestling with the gator of gators…you are flat out wrastlin’ a dragon. So I understand your pessimism about the chances of joy reigning supreme on this ol’ “mudball” as you describe it. And I sure can understand why you mentioned Sasson awhile back. Sasson seems to capture the tenor of the times more than say Manley. I mean it’s hard to take seriously in this day and age the Manley line about the “Holy Ghost bent over the world with warm breasts and, ah, bright wings!” But like despair, perhaps cynicism is sin.

If you don’t mind, may I speak of a rhythm that I see as inherent in your comments? You seem to start out your comments fairly giddy with optimism -- no nuclear catastrophe, life is swimmingly well with the barn and all-- but then near the end of the comments typically there is a plunge, like a long dark fall into the abyss of Eliot’s Wasteland. In the last comment, you described the freefall as a “dark eschatological view”, just before ending with your signatory exclamation point -- the word “Cheers”. I gotta’ tell you after I read your word “Cheers” this last time, I was tempted to ask, “ Holy Mother of God….Has TomB “lost his religion” too? Trust me, it’s really not bad when and if you do. And if you wrestle gators, it’s gonna’ happen.

I reckon my calibratin’ is kinda strange but I am sticking with it, at least for the weekend. The reason I decreased chances of a massive strike on Iran is because of your time frame, e.g. “before Bush is gone.” No other reason. The 07 NIE stretched the timing of the big scha-bang. But I ain’t saying it is not going to happen. In fact, once your remove your time frame, probabilities soar to the heavens sorta of like a mushroom cloud, if you catch my drift. And, to play into your eschatological apprehensions, which I certainly share, I’ll bet you that you’ll have lots of people chanting the Psalter in praise while they throw their heads back and forth. Can’t help but wonder if these folks worship the State and the bomb as if the two are the Holy Spirit and maybe even…dare I say it…Shechina. Maybe it is an ecumenical approach to see those two as one, but relying on deus ex machina is such a bad literary form.

I may as well say it again…all my calibratin’ is based on the Wurmser option. It is the inexorable march through Mid East time. Actually it seems to play out like an inexorable mid-east waltz in three steps. Now since I don’t know much about mid east waltzes, I did a little research, if I may say so myself. And I discovered that the Wurmser waltz is an ancient one but it always goes just like this: step one, step two, and then the big scha-bang….step THREE. Step one under present circumstances is the limited military strike against Iran. Now this step is important, and you are exactly right in your comment because it must create the optimum odds to trigger an Iranian response, which is step two. Then step THREE -- the big scha-bang -- the massive retaliation and suddenly we see Cheney and Norman Pod dancing a real jig called a clash of civilizations.

A cruise missile attack on an al-Qods base in Iran seems to satisfy the requirements of step one of the Wurmser waltz, don’t ya’ think? You really expect Iranians just to sit and do nothing? Maybe they will sit tight and let the world condemn the Cheney and Norman Pod crowd. Who knows…but there is no way you can have step Three without step one and that is why so many of those high falutin’ government people are stirring things up in the middle east. Since the 07 NIE took away the pretext of a nuclear weapons program in Iran, those government folks from Cheney’s office know that they need to drum up another pre-text for a pre-emptive strike for a post modern war. Did you see the latest at War Eagle Raimondo’s website? Take a gander

http://wiredispatch.com/news/?id=161931

Just want to make one more point that, unfortunately, may color your eschatological view to an even darker hue. Vietnam Vets wrote about a tactic they experienced called “hugging the belt”. From what I could figure out, “hugging the belt” is when the VC fought US troops as close as possible, so as to negate all technological advantages that the US might have.

When I was reading about the second Lebanon war, all I could think about was this lesson from the VN war and, even moreso, that the HA folks were “hugging the belt.” Nothing against the IDF but I don’t think they can win that kind of warfare. Sure, the sons and daughters of Dayan can drop bombs, assassinate folks, press those hard to get to buttons on computer keyboards. But mano-a-mano with no technological advantage? Second Lebanon War was a turning point and only one alternative left for Israel -- Dimona and the Cheney-Pod jig, with the USM paying a most horrendous price.

Of course, I didn’t read these conclusion in the Winograd report; nevertheless it leads us back to the Wurmser waltz. Martin van Creveld said as much in one of his interviews. So, if it is any consolation, you are not alone with your dark eschatological view. And who you gonna’ trust -- Winograd or Martin Van Creveld? If you hadn’t made up your mind already, here’s a link:

http://www.rense.com/general34/dutchisraelimilitary.

Don’t really know what else to say, except if you are wrestling gators, always think like a bulldog. And if a gator laughs and tells you that you seem to be the incarnation of the REM song, “Losing my religion”, then I say cheer up and consider yourself blessed. Tell that gator that the boys from Athens also had a song with a line that goes something like this -- “It’s the end of the world as we know it, and I feel fine.” That retort, in actions and in words, may very well put the fear of death in the gator, especially if you are wrestling at the eschatological plane. It certainly worked for me.

arthurdecco

TomB said: “At bottom I think most of this kind of thing stems either from some deep insecurity, or some deep frustration at never having received the full recognition from the world one feels one deserves."

I'm not so complicated, Tom, nor as insecure as you may think. My response had more to do with my middle-aged impatience with what I saw as a shallow, black and white explanation/observation/criticism offered up in response to a multi-hued political and social situation that most of us posting here don't have enough information on to form more than strong personal opinions about.

I forgot my manners and for that I apologize. But I refuse to apologize for passionately disagreeing with Andy’s thesis that Hezbollah had no business doing what they did in the wake of this pathetic and embarrassing assault on their immediate security, and ultimately, on the future security of Lebanon itself.

Andy said: “Hezbollah's raison d'etre is purportedly "resistance" to Israel - without an enemy, what exactly is Hezbollah's purpose?”

I can’t see how this sentence can be interpreted to mean anything other than: Israel is no longer Hezbollah’s enemy.

Could there be a cultural explanation for why I interpreted this sentence to mean that and you didn’t?

TomB

arthurdecco:

Your second post must have been queued up with mine so I didn't see it when I wrote. And from both its haste in response to Andy and its substance it's obvious neither your nature nor character needs any rehabilitation, least of all from me. (And I thought that incisive line of yours about the nature of this medium shows your intelligence don't need any either.)

Getting back to substance, I think I saw what Andy meant about Hezbollah's raison d'etre: He meant it as in ... "that's why it would vehemently oppose any Israeli/Syrian modus vivendi because same would eviscerate its founding and stated reason for existence...." And I thought he made a nice subtle point besides about it very possibly being a mistake for Hezbollah to be too into Lebanese internal stuff given how that also somewhat calls into question its "integrity" in terms of its stated (anti-Israeli) purpose.

The first mighta been a bit oblique and the second a bit theoretical, but remember your own line about the medium and subtlety. And of course Andy can speak for himself better than I can speak for either him or me, and maybe he will.

Sidney:

"Alligators" as in... of the highly skilled and aggressive pinsuited variety.

Otherwise and again, I was just a little puzzled by my perception of your arithmatic to the effect of "lessened risk of big strike, greater risk of small strike, but small strike=likely casus belli for big strike." But I see your explanation now.

Other than noting I love Sassoon too sorry, gotta fly for awhile so no time to address the rest. Maybe later. My apologies.

Cheers,

Andy

arthurdecco,

Thanks for your comments, I'll address them in turn:

Whoa, back up a bit…Did you sleep through the summer of 2006 like some kind of political Rip Van Winkle? Don’t be absurd.

Israel didn't just wake up one day and decide to re-invade Lebanon. They were provoked by a border raid carried out by Hezbollah - a unilateral act of foreign policymaking the rest of Lebanon didn't exactly authorize or buy into. Israel, IMO, overreacted to this provocation (and paid a price), yet it was in response to a provocation nonetheless. Even Nasrallah himself later said he didn't expect Israel to react the way they did and one gets the sense he might have done things differently had he known. In any event, it's hard to argue that you're defending Lebanon against Israeli aggression on one hand while taking unilateral actions that provoke an attack by Israel on the other.

I believe Hizbollah are the guardians of Lebanon precisely because they have used their resistance forces against these particular fellow Lebanese, Andy. If it can be proved that Hizbollah’s actions over the past week or so were a pragmatic and strategic reaction to violent, external threats, then your argument becomes moot. The Lebanese that Hizbollah confronted over the past days are in cahoots, (and in the pay) of “foreign interests”. Shouldn’t that make them a target for arrest and charges of treason by the Lebanese government rather than the beneficiary of uncritical support from our governments…or you?

First, do not make the assumption that because I am critical of Hezbollah in this case that I "support" the other side. I don't have a dog in this fight and were things left to me, I'd ensure that Lebanon could solve its own problems without any foreign interference. Speaking of which, like many of the Hezbollah supporters I read on other sites, you make reference to the "foreign interests" of M14 without any noticeable hint of irony. Actually, now that I think about it, the M14 crowd makes the same "foreign interests" argument that you do. Maybe you're both right and the Lebanese Army should arrest the whole population as traitors and stooges of foreign powers.

The threat didn’t have to be carried out to be effective. The purpose of making the threat was to get Hizbollah to overreact. And to set the stage for future foreign intervention.

It sounds like you're agreeing with me here that Hezbollah overreacted. It also sounds as if you're agreeing with me that they were baited into overreacting, which is essentially what I originally opined. I also agree with you that there is the potential to set the stage for future foreign intervention. I can only hope that provocations, miscalculations and overreactions down the line do not result in any more military intervention by foreign powers.

Obviously at some point Hezbollah's militia will have to be absorbed by a central government or disbanded and that can only come as part of a political compromise. In my judgment such a compromise is further away because Hezbollah crossed a line and used military force to solve a political problem instead of a political counter-maneuver.

I’d like to hear your ideas on what range of realistic options Hezbollah had for dealing with this provocation. Honestly.

Well, it could have started by limiting the extent of the operation, which went all the way up to Tripoli. It could have reigned in SSNP and Amal folks who went around smashing things up in a completely undisciplined manner and hanging posters of Assad all over the place (what was that you said again "foreign interests?"). They could have conducted a non-violent protest, or limited the operation to the airport, or simply said "no," or any number of other actions/reactions.

This ridiculous demand was the initial step down the road to simultaneous military assaults on Hizbollah, Hams, Syria and Iran. The point wasn’t to dismantle Hezbollah’s fibre optic communications network immediately. The purpose was to convince enough of their international political partners that it was necessary to eventually do so.

What's the problem? Almost everyone agrees the system will have to be dismantled or nationalized along with the rest of Hezbollah's militia (something Hezbollah itself claims it will do) - the only difference is when that will happen and under what circumstances. The GWB administration would, of course, like it dismantled and Hezbollah marginalized, but as Col. Lang has indicated in a few posts now, this goal is stupid at least partly because its unachievable. Again, no one can force Hezbollah to disarm, including their C2 system.

Whose minds? What suspicions?

Principally Lebanese that are not allied with Hezbollah but many others as well. You can read their arguments yourself over at John Landis' blog and many other places. The suspicions I have already laid out - that the purpose of Hezbollah's militia is no longer limited to "resistance" but now includes gaining domestic political advantage. I'm betting, however, that Hezbollah will gain no political advantage from their actions these past few days.

arthurdecco

TomB, You are a gracious man.

Sidney O. Smith III

TomB

Thanks, and may the force be with you.

Gators certainly include highly skilled pinstrips. Gators come from all walks of life, religions, and creeds.

Just so you know… I am not anti-gator in the least. One of my all time favorite people is a gator. This gator was/is so creative, he somehow or another played it above the pinstrips. Not sure how, but mention the pinstrips to him…and as God is my witness…he’d laugh. Total genius.

He has a slightly different definition of comedy than you, from what I can tell. Time permitting this week or whenever, I’ll try to give you his point of view. Here’s why --

Commercially successful comedy is of relevance, even at sst, because if you want to determine the intent of a nation, I’d say look at the comedy that nation is producing. Comedy is very ethereal and fleeting, more so than tragedy. Changes with the times and peoples. What works in Denmark may not work in Ireland and so on.

Sherman Kent did not emphasize comedy and the arts in his book Strategic Intelligence, but if Mr. Kent had asked me to figure out what’s happening in the ol’ Great Frusina, I’d say, “Mr, Kent, let me check out their comedy, and I’ll tell you the Frusina state of mind’”

But I don’t want to overlook tragedy, so I need to mention the possibility of a horrific war, as I have an update. When on a coffee break, check out War Eagle Raimondo’s latest. He is suggesting different probabilities than the two of us.

Yes, I know that War Eagle is a Marxist against the State, but as Col. Lang has stated, you look at the information as well as the source. And in this time and era, War Eagle has nailed it time and time again. More so that ’bout anyone I know. Don’t know if that’d be the case in 1932, during the depression and all. But credit where credit is due. Besides, he is a very talented writer and, well, funny too. A neocon once told me that he writes as if “his hair is on fire”, which is the greatest compliment.

Now I am not saying I agree with him completely in his latest screed. At least not yet, but he is relying on Giraldi’s latest report. So I say give War Eagle’s latest a quick gander for you own calibratin’. A good judge always considers both sides before making a ruling.

http://antiwar.com/justin/?articleid=12827

Andy

Here's what Nasrallah's predecessor has to say:

Former Hezbollah secretary general slams the group’s behavior
May 12, 2008

Hezbollah’s former secretary general, Sheikh Subhi Al-Tufaili, said that the group “has its let go of its sanctity in spite of all the pretexts” it has given by turning its weapons against fellow Lebanese.

Tufaili called for Hezbollah’s immediate withdrawal from Beirut and said that the matter of changing the head of the airport security does not justify what has happened.

He also noted that there are no doubts that Hezbollah’s communications officers are the backbone of its strength.

“There is no doubt that the government’s decision over Hezbollah’s landline network was stupid. But does solving this problem require what has happened in Beirut?”

Tufaili noted that much more dangerous decisions were taken against the resistance in the past, but Hezbollah managed to overcome them. “It could have ignored this decision or informed officials that it is forbidden to touch the landline network,” he added.

He also said that what has happened in Beirut was not necessary because it has opened “the doors of hell, and we don’t know how to close them unless there are other reasons for what is happening that we are not aware of.”

“What happened has increased the Sunni-Shia strife in the whole Islamic world. This serves the interests of major powers and is a gift to the Zionist enemy, because the resistance’s use of its weapons in Beirut will ruin it, similar to what happened with the Palestinian weapons used in Beirut in the 1970s. Soon everyone will see this clearly.”

Tufaili said that a resistance that fights against its own people faces a certain death.

arthurdecco

Andy, Is it possible for you to discuss these issues without putting words in my mouth or manufacturing my opinions for me? Please, read carefully what I have written. I made my opinions clear. I certainly didn't say, (as you claim), that I thought Hizbollah over-reacted. You made that up.

As you did the ‘facts’ surrounding the beginnings of the 2006 previously-planned pulverization of Lebanon by the thugs who lead Israel’s government and direct it’s military. You really should do some further research into the fantasies you’ve chosen to promulgate in this exchange with me. I, for one, know better and I’m insulted that you think me foolish or uninformed enough to accept your codswallop as fact.

Do I recognize the “noticeable hint of irony” in my claim that Hizbollah's armed opposition is serving in the interests of foreign powers? No, I don't. Hizbollah may be accepting money and arms from foreign sources but so what? They serve the interests of Lebanon and the majority of its citizenry, their religious preferences notwithstanding. Full Stop. That has been made clear by their actions since Nasrallah took on their leadership. Explain to me how the actions of Hizbollah’s opposition serve the best interests of Lebanon. That's the difference between these opposing political sides, isn’t it? And what does the enthusiastic poster-stapling actions of Amal or other ‘folks’ have to do with Hizbollah? I’m sure that Hizbollah will deal with the inappropriate actions of their allies sooner rather than later because that’s how they’ve handled themselves so far – intelligently and professionally. They do not sweep stuff under the carpet or deny inconvenient facts. Only fools and charlatans do that.

One final point: There's a reason that Tufaili is no longer leader of Hizbollah and a reason why Nasrallah is the most popular political figure in the Middle East.

You’re blowing smoke. As usual.

Andy

arthurdecco,

To begin with, your offense at "putting words into your mouth" is unwarranted. I said "it sounds like you're agreeing with me...." That type of phrasing is commonly used to relay interpretations of statements back to the sender to ensure the statement was accurately perceived. If I was putting words in your mouth I would have said, "you agree with me," or "your position is X" or setup some strawman to try to entrap you. I did none of those things.

As for the 2006 war and the rest, since you haven't proffered much to rebut my chosen fantasies beyond being insulted I would dare to voice them, then there isn't much further we can reasonably nor constructively discuss.

arthurdecco

Andy, you’re a bright guy. There have been times when, in my opinion, your comments have been among the most insightful contributions to these threads. That’s why I’m beginning to think you don't read what I write. You have to be reading the hastily re-written, abridged Reader’s Digest version.

I don't think its personal - I think it has more to do with the subject matter – subjects where we appear to be at odds over both the facts and our fancies. I have to admit there are people posting in my line of vision who unfailingly force a snort of derision out of my nose when I read their name. Maybe that’s me for you. It’s getting to be you for me, lately. (rueful grin), though I still carefully consider every word you write because, when you get right down to it, what else is there to this medium but words?

Everyone has blind spots - deliberate and unintentional. But I want you to understand that this issue isn't one of mine.

Do I know anything? Nothing. I’m a nowhere nobody.

But I’m smart, well and widely read and I’m a relatively pragmatic guy. I'd like you to seriously consider the points of view I've offered up on this thread.

With me being an optimist, I want to think that after you thoroughly and independently investigate the ‘facts’ as I have relayed them, your opinions will change.

Quixotic?

You tell me.

Andy

arthurdecco,

Fair enough. I'm glad we're ending this discussion on a positive note and hope for more of the same in the future.

mo

Andy,
I dont want to get in between yourself and arthur but I would like to point out a few misconceptions you have, which if you have to rely entirely on the msm is perfectly understandable.

You say Israel didn't just wake up one day and decide to re-invade Lebanon. The San Francisco Chronichle ran a story in July 06 that stated that that was exactly what they did. Except the the day they decided had been in February that year.

You say it's hard to argue that you're defending Lebanon against Israeli aggression on one hand while taking unilateral actions that provoke an attack by Israel on the other.

However, the action was not as unilateral as opponents of Hizballah would have you believe. On a number of occasions before the war Nasrallah publicly stated that Hizballah had been betrayed by the Israelis in agreements that had been made in the last prisoner swap and that Hizballah would now be looking to capture Israeli soldiers in order to swap them for Lebanese prisoners. He also publicly stated that if anyone in the country disagreed with this policy, they should make that clear to the party and provide an alternative mechanism for recovering the prisoners.

You say Hezbollah supporters make reference to the "foreign interests" of M14 without any noticeable hint of irony. While I understand your understanding of states and actors is a western one and that there is some irony in the accusations, there is however a deeper dynamic. The relationship between Iran and Hizballah is not simply one of state and proxy. That they are both Shia is not the relevant issue in this relationship. It is that the Lebanese Shia and the Iranian Shia are intertwined by more than just religion. They are intertwined by marriage, family, pan-Islamism, cultural affinity and the religious leaders of Lebanon, Iran and Iraq will have grown up studying together or been under one another tutelage in the seminaries in Iraq and Iran.
As for Syria, the relationship is far simpler. It is an alliance. Syria holds no superiority over Hizballah and in fact the two were mortal enemies until the nineties. The relationship is mutualy beneficial. Hizballah gets to use the relative safety of operations in Damascus and Syria get to bluff with the Hizballah card in negotiations.

In regards to the last weeks events, yes of course they were 'baited' but they did not over-react. the actions of M14 were a directed threat at Hizballahs very existence. Had they let it pass, the consquences may very well have been a bloodier, deadlier fight further down the road. They sent a message to M14, do what you want but do not mess with our ability to fight Israel. If anything, their reaction, in that they did not attempt to force them from govt. or did not harm any of them is decidedly measured.

While I agree with you that the actions of SSNP and Amal were an embarrasment (sometimes you just can't choose your allies) the fighting was inteded to be kept to Beirut. The fighting in Tripoli had little to do with the opposition at all and in fact very little to do with M14 either. It was opportunism by two groups, the Sunnis and the Alwaites of Tripoli, to use the fighting in Beirut as an excuse to settle scores. The fighting in the Chouf was also unintended but came as a result of an attempted counter attack by Jumblats forces.

The actions were not meant to gain a political advantage. They were a message to M14 about what happens when you cross the line. The ability of Hizballah to defend Lebanon will not be compromised by a M14 agenda or anyone elses agenda. if Hizballah is to be integrated into the army, its communications network dismantaled, it wil be done when they say so.

A final thing. Im not sure you are quite aware of the irony if using Tufaili as evidence for the prosecution. This is the man who was removed from Hizballah because he would not accept Lebanon being anything but an Islamic Republic. This mans ideology is the Shia equivalent of Al Qaida.

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