July 13, 2006

Israel vs. Lebanon

By Callimachus

So they say:
The violence pitting Arabs and Jews in the Middle East has spilled from the physical into the virtual world, as combatants on both sides lay siege to the Internet sites of one another.
And why should we be left out?

Honestly, though, I'm on a learning curve trying to figure out what's happening. It's times like this I used to go to Michael's site to see what insights he had from his ringside seat. Instead, I'm here with more questions than answers.

Make this an open thread on the current Mideast crisis. What sites or publications do you look to for unbiased information? Or is it more a matter of taking a bite from both sides and trying to find the center of gravity between them?

Also, I've had a nagging feeling that the current Israeli government, being headed by men who, I think, lack the military leadership experience and hawkish track record of many of their predecessors, might feel it has to hit back especially hard in its first test. Is that possibly the case here?

UPDATE: Just after writing this I see my blog-partner Reader_I_Am also is in "read and learn" mode, and she's got a list started of some of the sites that are putting up good information, including the indispensible Lebanese Political Journal.

Bloggers try to emulate journalists in being the first to report. But sometimes it's difficult to write an intelligent opinion until the smoke clears a bit and you can see what's happening.

Posted by Callimachus at July 13, 2006 02:37 PM
Comments

And why shouldn't they hit back hard?

Posted by: Darren at July 13, 2006 03:04 PM

Iraq the Model has some very interesting comments from Iraqis from Saturday the 8th, and Wednesday the 12th.
It will be interesting (and a little frightening) to see how these events play out.
I really enjoy this site, and rely on MJT's insight into the whole situation in the Mideast.

Posted by: sallyo at July 13, 2006 03:10 PM

One of the interesting things about this little war is the feeling so apparent by all non-nutjob parties that this was pretty much coming one way or the other. The only real surprise is that Israel held back for so long, needing this new and significant outrage to finally act decisively (one hopes) against the terrorists who have murdered and deeply hurt so many people, including the deliberate, cold-blooded nail-bombings of quite a few small children on school busses.

Posted by: Brother Bark at July 13, 2006 03:32 PM

We are definitely the poorer for not having Michael's insights. (Hurry back, Michael!)

About the only thing I could do was glean Michael's archives for ideas.

In this post I followed MJT's link to Abu Kais at From Beirut to the Beltway, which has turned out to ba an excellent source of information. Be sure to read the Comments. And of course there's always Lebanese Political Journal.

Posted by: Asher Abrams - Dreams Into Lightning at July 13, 2006 03:35 PM

One thing I remember Michael always stressing in our conversations is that the Lebanese people have no love for Hezbollah; and whatever support Hezb once enjoyed will evaporate once the pretexts for its existence are gone. Well, that time is now.

Blackfive has a roundup of cedarbloggers:
http://www.blackfive.net/main/2006/07/welcome_to_my_l.html

Go check it out.

Posted by: Asher Abrams - Dreams Into Lightning at July 13, 2006 03:52 PM

It is less about the lack of military experience of the Israeli leadership than about the credibilty of the policy of withdrawl; especially unilateral withdrawl, which is the policy of Olmert, but also negotiated withdrawl.

If the withdrawls from Gaza and South Lebanon are perceived as weakening Israel's security, because the area is taken over by groups who wish to destroy Israel, are looking for any pretext to justify continued warfare, don't care about the harm it causes their nations, and can act without objection from moderates, than this would mean that continued occupation (the policy of the Israeli right) is better than withdrawl. So Olmert has to show that even after withdrawl Israel's security is not compromised. More so because this has been building up for quite some time -- the Hamas and the Hizbulla arming themselves, making attacks deeper and deeper into Israel from their respective territories ever since the withdrawls. Waiting any longer would have destroyed the credibilty of withdrawl policy completely (it may have already). The kidnapping of the soldier into gaza was the last straw in that arena. And then the Hizbulla did something stupid. They decided that they have to do something similar in order to compete with the Hamas for a leadership position in the 'resistence' field. With the hizbulla Israel has been grinding its teeth for 6 years. And this was the least controversial withdrawl. Allowing this Hizbulla operation, and indirect involvement in the Gaza situation, to pass would have brought he whole security system that has been developed in the last decade to replace occupation to come crashing down.

Posted by: Micha at July 13, 2006 03:59 PM

best source of info for what's going on, online or off:
http://lebanesebloggers.blogspot.com/

the lebanese portal http://openlebanon.org/ links to entries from most of the best lebanese blogs. good place to start.

Posted by: carine at July 13, 2006 04:17 PM

Check the archives. Michael has a link to a lot of bloggers on both sides of the wall worth talking to. I've already heard back from one of his contributors and was told that both sides are maintaining their civility and respect while the situation unfolds. If only the world were governed by bloggers....

Posted by: Paul MacPhail at July 13, 2006 04:31 PM

stratfor.com has an interesting analysis of the Israeli/Lebanese conflict that they're sending out to free subscribers. Unfortunately it may be too late to get it for free since you have to pay to see it on their web site.

Now would be a good time to subscribe. If I wasn't completely broke, I'd spring $100 for a quarterly subscription right now.

Some highlights:

The more fundamental issue is this: Israel withdrew from Lebanon in order to escape low-intensity conflict. If Hezbollah is now going to impose low-intensity conflict on Israel's border, the rationale for withdrawal disappears. It is better for Israel to fight deep in Lebanon than inside Israel. If the rockets are going to fall in Israel proper, then moving into a forward posture has no cost to Israel.

From an international standpoint, the Israelis expect to be condemned. These international condemnations, however, are now having the opposite effect of what is intended. The Israeli view is that they will be condemned regardless of what they do. The differential between the condemnation of reprisal attacks and condemnation of a full invasion is not enough to deter more extreme action. If Israel is going to be attacked anyway, it might as well achieve its goals.

Moreover, an invasion of Hezbollah-held territory aligns Israel with the United States. U.S. intelligence has been extremely concerned about the growing activity of Hezbollah, and U.S. relations with Iran are not good. Lebanon is the center of gravity of Hezbollah, and the destruction of Hezbollah capabilities in Lebanon, particularly the command structure, would cripple Hezbollah operations globally in the near future. The United States would very much like to see that happen, but cannot do it itself. Moreover, an Israeli action would enrage the Islamic world, but it would also drive home the limits of Iranian power. Once again, Iran would have dropped Lebanon in the grease, and not been hurt itself. The lesson of Hezbollah would not be lost on the Iraqi Shia -- or so the Bush administration would hope.

Therefore, this is one Israeli action that benefits the United States, and thus helps the immediate situation as well as long-term geopolitical alignments. It realigns the United States and Israel. This also argues that any invasion must be devastating to Hezbollah. It must go deep. It must occupy temporarily. It must shatter Hezbollah.

At this point, the Israelis appear to be unrolling a war plan in this direction. They have blockaded the Lebanese coast. Israeli aircraft are attacking what air power there is in Lebanon, and have attacked Hezbollah and other key command-and-control infrastructure. It would follow that the Israelis will now concentrate on destroying Hezbollah -- and Lebanese -- communications capabilities and attacking munitions dumps, vehicle sites, rocket-storage areas and so forth.

...

Given the blockade and what appears to be the shape of the airstrikes, it seems to us at the moment the Israelis are planning to go fairly deep into Lebanon. The logical first step is a move to the Litani River in southern Lebanon. But given the missile attacks on Haifa, they will go farther, not only to attack launcher sites, but to get rid of weapons caches. This means a move deep into the Bekaa Valley, the seat of Hezbollah power and the location of plants and facilities. Such a penetration would leave Israeli forces' left flank open, so a move into Bekaa would likely be accompanied by attacks to the west. It would bring the Israelis close to Beirut again.

...

At the same time, Israel does not intend to get bogged down in Lebanon again. It will want to go in, wreak havoc, withdraw. That means it will go deeper and faster, and be more devastating, than if it were planning a long-term occupation. It will go in to liquidate Hezbollah and then leave. True, this is no final solution, but for the Israelis, there are no final solutions.

Israeli forces are already in Lebanon. Its special forces are inside identifying targets for airstrikes. We expect numerous air attacks over the next 48 hours, as well as reports of firefights in southern Lebanon. We also expect more rocket attacks on Israel.

...

Therefore:

1. Israel cannot tolerate an insurgency on its northern frontier; if there is one, it wants it farther north.

2. It cannot tolerate attacks on Haifa.

3. It cannot endure a crisis of confidence in its military

4. Hezbollah cannot back off of its engagement with Israel.

5. Syria can stop this, but the cost to it stopping it is higher than the cost of letting it go on.

It would appear Israel will invade Lebanon. The global response will be noisy. There will be no substantial international action against Israel. Beirut's tourism and transportation industry, as well as its financial sectors, are very much at risk.

Posted by: Josh Scholar at July 13, 2006 08:26 PM

At this point Israel must play for all the marbles or lose.

It may have had another option(although I can't see it), but having begun it can hardly stop without really putting a hurt on Hizbollah. Frankly I would attack Syria instead of (in addition to) Lebanon, but perhaps that will happen in the future. Damascus needs to pay for tis malicious meddling, and pay severely. Otherwise why should it ever stop ? It's a free game for Assad. Israel needs to make it much more costly.

And let's be coldly honest --- Israel has more to gain from open conflict than from a low-level terror war. It can 'win' in the former, but can never 'succeed' in the later. A war of attrition is never going to favour Israel.

Posted by: dougf at July 13, 2006 08:50 PM

All Arab eyes are on Olmert right now, and he's not about to come off as a pussy. So this could get pretty ugly. To the Arabs, wouldn't it be so much easier for you to just stop f*cking with Israel? But noooooo, that would be too easy. I mean, what would you do with all that spare time if you weren't trading rocket fire with the jooos. I have a suggestion. How bout building up your own damn countries instead of obssessing about the joooos 24/7.

Posted by: Carlos at July 13, 2006 09:08 PM

Reader_Iam has extensively updated her links list, which IMHO is one of the best currently available.

Meanwhile, I was reminded of this grim prediction made a few months ago:
It seems obvious who will win. Israel might last 100 years if its people are both lucky and skillful. Nevertheless, in the future only historians will know that the war’s outcome was ever in doubt. Much as today’s students see the Hundred Years War between England and France, Israel’s end will seem inevitable to them. Whatever Grand Strategies Israel has used since their conquest of the West Bank and Gaza—and this paper has discussed only the results, not the specifics—have failed. However theoretical the debates over a state’s grand strategy, the stakes are of the highest kind.
Posted by: Callimachus at July 13, 2006 09:10 PM

That links list came up 404

Posted by: Josh Scholar at July 13, 2006 09:26 PM

That's troubling, and he makes a valid point about the demographics. But the Israeli will to survive and overcome makes abstractions like "entropy" irrelevant. Entropy does not account for the human will. It's the Arabs-- not Israel-- that are living on borrowed time. You see, the West's oil dependency won't last forever. Even today the industrial nations are beginning to look around for alternative fuel sources. It won't be long before the Arabs are eating their oil. Mr. Maximus gives Israel 100 years max, I give the Arabs 50 years max. By then hydrogen will be fueling our cars, and oil will be cheaper than coal. Meanwhile god only knows how advanced Israeli anti-terror technologies will be. Terrorism may not even be a factor. Demographically? That's a problem. But the Israelis, with their technology, could become the Japan of the middle east. If so, world Jewry will be flocking to Israel instead of moving from it. Nothing is written.

Posted by: Carlos at July 13, 2006 09:45 PM

Isn't it going to take longer than that for the oil to run out and become an insignificant economic boon for the Arabs?

God only knows what the future will bring. The fall of the Berlin wall showed me that surprises happen.

Posted by: Josh Scholar at July 13, 2006 10:04 PM

Michael J. Totten called it:

"Everything Could Explode at any Moment."

http://mypetjawa.mu.nu/archives/183916.php

Posted by: Carlos at July 13, 2006 10:12 PM

and here:

http://aredphishhead.blogspot.com/2006/07/remember-this.html

Posted by: Carlos at July 13, 2006 10:14 PM

What the IDF is doing in Lebanon is essential to the cause of peace. But ultimately, the two-headed monster that is cultivating the terrorists must be slayed. Otherwise the defeat of Hezbollah is only a temporary victory.

Most of our current leaders, the careerists in the State Department, and particularly the worse-than-worthless United Nations, refuse to openly acknowledge what all sane people know is true : the current regimes in Teheran and Damascus must be destroyed.

We have two choices : Unseat the Iranian mullahs and their sponsors in Damascus now, or we will have a much bigger war in the not-too-distant future.

We cannot play the ostrich game forever. Ultimately there is no escaping this reality. Fasten your seatbelts.

Posted by: freeguy at July 13, 2006 10:14 PM

I would bet on Israel's survival in one hundred years over certain European countries, whose demographic problem is no less critical, and whose preparedness is non-existant.

Posted by: markc at July 13, 2006 10:28 PM

or here, I guess:

“Everything Could Explode at Any Moment”

http://www.michaeltotten.com/archives/001132.html

Posted by: Carlos at July 13, 2006 10:42 PM

Carlos seems to draw a different conclusion than what may be warranted from the expected depletion of oil.

First off, I sincerely doubt that oil will cease to be an extremely valuable commodity anytime soon (it has many uses besides energy y'know).

And if it were to become a relatively valueless commodity, then you need to keep two factors in mind. 1. Oil or no oil, the Arabs will still be living in the middle east - so the demographic challange, and existential threat to Israel would not abate. And 2. with no vital economic resource in the Middle East, there would be far less reason for the US, or the West, to exert blood or treasure, or time and energy worrying about what happens there.

Posted by: Tano at July 13, 2006 10:50 PM

While I do NOT like the Jews killing the wrong people (which they do all too frequently) I am posting this which was sent to me by a Christian friend.

-------------------------------

Once again, the real news is conveniently not being reported as it should.

A woman who recently made aliya (immigration to Israel) from Paris
with her family has spoken about anti-Semitism in France and she confirmed that it is very, very serious and getting worse every week.

She and her family fled Paris and came to Israel, fearing for their lives - literally.

This is first hand.

To give you an idea of what's going on in France where there are now between 5 and 6 million Muslims and about 600,000 Jews, here is an email that came from a Jew still in France.

Please read!

Will the world say nothing-again-as it did in Hitler's time?

He writes,

"I AM A JEW -- therefore I am forwarding this to everyone on my e-mail lists. I will not sit back and do nothing."

Nowhere have the flames of anti-Semitism burned more furiously than in France:

In Lyon, a car was rammed into a synagogue and set on fire.

In Montpellier, the Jewish religious center was firebombed; so were synagogues in Strasbourg and Marseilles; as was a Jewish school in Creteil - all recently.

A Jewish sports club in Toulouse was attacked with Molotov cocktails, and on the statue of Alfred Dreyfus in Paris, the words "Dirty Jew" were painted.

In Bondy, 15 men beat up members of a Jewish football team with sticks and metal bars.

The bus which takes Jewish children to a school in Aubervilliers has been attacked 3 times in the last 14 months.

According to Police, metropolitan Paris has seen 10 to 12 anti-Jewish incidents PER DAY in the past 30 days.

Wake up, world!

The walls in Jewish neighborhoods have been defaced with slogans proclaiming "Jews to the gas chambers" and "Death to the Jews."

A gunman opened fire on a kosher butcher's shop (and, of course, the butcher) in Toulouse, France.

A Jewish couple in their 20s were
beaten by five men in Villeurbanne, France. The woman was pregnant.

A Jewish school was broken in to and then vandalized in Sarcelles, France.

This was in the past week.

So I call on you, whether you are a fellow Jew, a friend, or merely a person with the capacity and desire to distinguish decency from depravity, to do, at least, three simple things:

Care enough to stay informed. Don't ever let yourself become deluded into thinking this is not your fight. I remind you of what Pastor Neimoller said in World War II:

"First they came for the Communists, and
I didn't speak up, because I wasn't a Communist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I didn't speak up, because I wasn't a Jew. 

Then they came for the Catholics, and I didn't speak up, because I was a Protestant.

Then they came for me, and by that time there was no one left to speak up for me."

Boycott France & all French products.

Only the Arab countries are more toxically anti-Semitic and, unlike them, France exports more than just oil and hatred.

So boycott their wines, perfumes, clothes and foodstuffs. Boycott their movies.

Definitely boycott their shores. If we are resolved we can exert amazing pressure and, whatever else we may know about the French, we most certainly know they are like a cobweb in a hurricane in the face of well directed pressure.

Send this along to your family, your friends, and your co-workers. Think of all of the people of good conscience that you know & let them know you and the people that you care about need their help.

The number one best selling book in France is "September 11: The Frightening Fraud," which argues that no plane ever hit the Pentagon.

Is it any wonder aliya from France to Israel has increased dramatically?

Shelly

-----------------------------

Another reason I posted this is I hold the scum-sucking, puss-eating French in very low regard.

Posted by: Neil C. Reinhardt at July 13, 2006 11:07 PM

IDF: 8 Killed - 2 Kidnapped

Hezbollah: 3 Killed

Lebanese civilians: 56 Killed

Israeli civilians: 3 Killed

Good job IDF!

Posted by: Lira at July 13, 2006 11:15 PM

I am posting this which was sent to me by a Christian friend.

Reinhardt,

you have a christian friend??? And he's not tried to kill you yet? I would be careful if I were you, he may turn on you without warning.

Posted by: Carlos at July 13, 2006 11:19 PM

Lira,

if you got those numbers from Hisbollah (or the BBC), methinks that many of those 56 innocent civilians killed were actually Hisbollah, not innocent civilians.

Posted by: Carlos at July 13, 2006 11:27 PM

As far as Oil, there is enough Oil Shale in Canada to run the world for 100 years!

AND,

There is MORE Oil Shale in Utah and Colorado than there is in Canada.

PLUS, (even better) by setting up lots of Thermal Depolymerization plants, getting Oil is NOT a problem at all.

Thermal depolymerization can change about 90% of ALL TRASH & ALL SEWAGE INTO useable oil. Just think, you can go to every land fill in the U.S. and turn MOST of it into Oil.

Thermal depolymerization - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Thermal depolymerization (TDP) is a process for the reduction of complex organic ... A Thermal Depolymerization demonstration plant was completed in 1999 in ...

http://www.en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thermal_depolymerization - 42k - Jul 12, 2006

So do not fret about the world running out of oil as there is a LOT of it around. It is just the cost of getting it.

(And TD plants are a lot cheaper way to get than getttting it out of Oil Shale.)

Posted by: Neil C. Reinhardt at July 13, 2006 11:35 PM

Yes Clueless, I have a lot of Christian friends.

Posted by: Neil C. Reinhardt at July 13, 2006 11:38 PM

IDF: 8 Killed - 2 Kidnapped

Hezbollah: 3 Killed

Lebanese civilians: 56 Killed

Israeli civilians: 3 Killed

Good job IDF!

Well, if you Lebanese would police your own territory, others wouldn't have to do it for you.

Posted by: Yafawi at July 13, 2006 11:58 PM

Oh How Cute, Carlos wants to assure the Jews do not get blamed for killing the wrong people.

That coming from a "super" Christian when the Moslems have to kill many millions of more Jews to catch with the number of Jews killed by Christians.

After all, the German and Italian soldiers were nearly all Christians. (As are the Serbs who just conducted genocide against the Moslems.)

And of course, you have to be a Christian to join two famous American anti-Jewish groups, the KKK and the Neo-Nazis.

Posted by: Neil C. Reinhardt at July 13, 2006 11:58 PM

Carlos,

The IDF casualties have been confirmed by the IDF.

The Hezbollah casualties have been confirmed by the Hezbollah, the Hezbollah has always announced its casualties as those fighters are martyrs for him and he takes pride in his fallen soldiers.

The Lebanese civilian casualties have been confirmed by the red cross and the various hospitals that received the bodies of those people.

The Israeli civilian casualties have been confirmed by the Israeli Government.

Sorry you couldn't pass by and count the bodies yourself.

Posted by: Lira at July 14, 2006 01:12 AM

You're right Yafawi, the IDF is policing Lebanon and doing a darn good job at it! Someone tell them though that they need to target actual Hezbollah positions, not civilians?

Oh and they might to improve that ratio of Hezbollah to IDF casualties because it's currently 1 to 3.

Posted by: Lira at July 14, 2006 01:15 AM

Everyone should be reading the insightful blog Lebanon profile right now.

For instance, this grim article (that I hope is completely wrong):

[by the way, sorry for quoting in full, but there's no way to link to articles on that blog, and this article is short) - follow the link to read the rest.]

The Aggression Will Stop When Israel Decides
Lebanon is in political turmoil.

Hezbollah will not negotiate with Israel. To give up the prisoners is to admit defeat. Yet, neither the Lebanese government or a sizable portion of the Lebanese people support Hezbollah's actions.

Sadly, the government has no control over Hezbollah. As elected members of the Lebanese Parliament, Hezbollah can stifle actions taken by the Lebanese Army. Syrian appointed President Emile Lahoud, a strong Hezbollah supporter, will not allow the Lebanese Army to move in any way against Hezbollah.

The Army will not move to secure Southern Lebanon, and they are not capable of doing so. First, Israel has destroyed all of the major thoroughfares to Southern Lebanon, meaning the Army cannot move into territory dominated by Hezbollah. Second, Hezbollah is more powerful than the Lebanese Army.

Hezbollah will continue doing petty damage to Israel, while Israel continues to destroy Lebanese infrastructure and force Lebanese and tourists into Syria, which is profiting greatly from this affair.

As a Palestinian member of the Syrian Social Nationalist Party just said to me: "We take two soldiers, and they destroy our airport. They destroy the whole South and billions of dollars of investments. They destroy the stock market. What was Hezbollah thinking?"

Getting a Palestinian member of an anti-semitic political party that calls for the destruction of Israel to say that is significant. The tide is turning against Hezbollah.

Hezbollah will not end this conflict, which means we live at the mercy of the Israelis. Everyone in Lebanon knows this.

Everyone is asking when the evacuations will begin. Allegedly, the Cypriot embassy is organizing one for its citizens.

Posted by: Josh Scholar at July 14, 2006 01:31 AM

Michael

Hows all of that shit you were talking about over at SG working out for you there Chief?

Almost seems like you might have been just a little off on a couple of things.

I was hoping that you would at least have something substantial enough to mock on your website--stay fabulous, you craven jackass. I have to tell you that I am overjoyed to see you stuck in the middle of another "the model"

Kyle

Posted by: tenmile at July 14, 2006 01:31 AM

Lira, the body counting thing is stupid, because it depends on who counts what and since when.

Let's look at another criterion. You (a significant number of you, anyhow) thought that HA has liberated you. You then counted on them to deter Israel and defend you.

They don't.

Posted by: Disk on Key at July 14, 2006 01:36 AM

And if I may continue on the same subject.

One layer of what's happening is not about land or other resources. It is about images.

In the 90s' Israel acquired the image of a prospering hi-tec, hedonist and slightly wimipish society. This gave some people the wrong ideas.

Israeli responses to the Palestinian attacks in 2002 have turned the tide for some (witness the relatively long ceasefire with Hamas). It seems that a similar move in Lebanon is necessary to convince others.

Having said that, I hold that force should in any case be a very last resort.

Posted by: Disk on Key at July 14, 2006 01:43 AM

As a Palestinian member of the Syrian Social Nationalist Party just said to me: "We take two soldiers, and they destroy our airport. They destroy the whole South and billions of dollars of investments. They destroy the stock market. What was Hezbollah thinking?"

"Our masters in Tehran want a crisis during the G8 summit to distract everyone from our nuclear weapons program".

Think I'm wrong? Take a look-

http://today.reuters.com/news/newsArticle.aspx?type=newsOne&storyID=2006-07-13T214914Z_01_L13880815_RTRUKOC_0_US-MIDEAST-LEBANON-SAUDI.xml

When the Saudis criticize Arabs instead of Israelis, it's about Iran.

Posted by: rosignol at July 14, 2006 02:32 AM

When the Saudis criticize Arabs instead of Israelis, it's about Iran.

Yes. In the blogosphere I've noticed that whenever I thought I saw Muslim self-criticism it always turned out to be a Shiite critisizing Sunnis or Sunnis critisizing Shiite.

Try to get them to critisize their own leaders and out come the lies and excuses... then silence.

Posted by: Josh Scholar at July 14, 2006 02:44 AM

...well, most of the time.

Posted by: Josh Scholar at July 14, 2006 02:45 AM

I'm reading the Lebanese blogs with great interest. Many of them remind me of a scene in the movie Cold Mountain where Renee Zellweger does an excellent rant at the men in the US Civil War to this effect - "They stand in the rain crying that its wet and they are the ones that made the weather".

Posted by: jdwill at July 14, 2006 04:25 AM

Where do we begin?
For me it starts with a few basic differences regarding the baseline thinking behind the parties actions.

The Israelis actions stem from the question "What must we do to defend Israel?" Although many times it becomes an offense, it is basically a defensive call. When you look back over the decades up to today this has been their play book. We need to survive. We remember the past & we have to give our children a future.

The Palestinian/Arab actions originate with "what can we do to weaken/destroy Israel today?" Even when given a golden opportunity to change their thinking & actions, they failed. Think Arafat, Camp David, or even last Fall in Gaza. Gaza could be a beach-front tourist paradise on the Mediterranean. The Palestinians could have shown the whole world what they could achieve ( & we all would have supported them & applauded). However they chose to send rockets into Israel on a daily basis.

The meaning of words is also very important here. When we in the west here "occupied territories" it is usually meant as Gaza & west Bank. When the Palestinians use it they are referring to ALL of Israel proper & the rest. When they speak of regaining them they are wanting all of Israel. They don't want peace with Israel. They desire Israels complete destruction.

I don't have any answers. The leadership of Iran & Syria have been smacking the lion in the cage with a stick for sometime. They cannot be surprised when they get mauled when the lion breaks loose.

I look forward to hearing from Michael. His reports from the border months ago were right on.

Posted by: David at July 14, 2006 05:21 AM

Lira:

In any conflict between a free nation (Israel) and those who attack it, civilian casualties are the moral responsibility of the attacker, not the free nation. Israel's right to defend itself is not attenuated or negated by the fact that the attackers hide among civilians. Every civilian man, woman and child that dies is the sole responsibility of Hezbollah, Hamas, the regimes in Syria and Iran, and anyone else who supports them.

Israel (and the U.S. for that matter) will never be safe until those regimes are destroyed -- and if that requires a million civilian casualties, so be it. In many cases, civilians are perfectly legitimate targets. In WWII, it took massive civilian casualties (500,000 or so) to convince the Japanese people to renounce militant imperialism and surrender, and I expect it will take something of the same magnitude or greater to convince the world's Muslims to stop supporting terrorism or tolerating those who do.

The problem is that the west has been philosophically weakened by pacifists like you who have swallowed the notion that the rights of "innocent civilians" trump the right to defend ourselves. But no one can invoke a right to be free of the inherent danger of having murderers in your midst. The free nations of the world have a right to come after those murderers -- and if you get in the line of fire, blame the murderer, not those seeking to eliminate them.

This does not mean that Israel should kill civilians gratuitously -- but it means they should use whatever level of force is needed to destroy the threats to their nation -- and civilian casualties be damned.

Posted by: Michael Smith at July 14, 2006 06:27 AM

From a thread in May, MJT wrote:

"Leave Beirut Out Of It"

http://www.michaeltotten.com/archives/001147.html

I wish he were back for the discussion now, but are there not Hezbollah neighborhoods in Beirut?

Does al-Manar broadcast out of Beirut?

Does/Can Hezbollah use any supply lines that come and go out of Beirut?

And - which is the crux of your original post - is the Lebanese government still not responsible for the "militia" it is legally obligated to control on its Southern border?

I don't want the conflict to widen at all.

I wish the IDF would, instead, try to kill Nasrallah and Hamdan in Lebanon, move over to Damascus and try to kill Meshaal and Marzook.

Easier said than done, I know.

But MJT, this is exactly what we were arguing about a couple months ago. What are the Israelis supposed to do when the country directly to the North refuses to even attempt to live up to its obligation of unifying military control?

And then because of that lack of even an attempt to live up to its obligations, Hezbollah goes nuts.

If you say trying to disarm Hezbollah will bring on civil war in Lebanon, then this is the question. Hezbollah's guns/missiles are going to be pointed at someone.

What's more fair? That they're pointed and used against Israel - who withdrew from Lebanon 6 years ago? Or that they're pointed at the people obligated to disarm them.

The Lebanese government, instead of joining the typical Arab League chorus of "look at what those brutal Israelis are doing" (damn, even the Saudis aren't doing that this time) needs to be screaming at the top of their lungs to have the world help them get rid of Hezbollah.

Short of that, Beirut and the Hezbollah targets and potential supply lines therein, will unfortunately be in the firing line.

It sucks. It's horrific. But it's Lebanon's responsibility to do something about Hezbollah, and in the absence of doing anything, to publicly ask for support.

It seems like they'd even get some from the Saudis, of all people.

Posted by: SoCalJustice at July 14, 2006 07:31 AM

I'm not sure why that link came up as "404", but it's the same one as listed in the update in Cal's original post (it's just that I updated it with a bunch of new links. However, here it is again, though I suspect it's more useful now for the sources rather than the specific articles/posts, in most cases.

And here's my drive-by observation for today, Elephant Times, the bottom line of which is this: "In this case, the devil may not be so much in the details, but in the connections."

Posted by: reader_iam at July 14, 2006 08:05 AM

I checked the links in my previous comment, and they do seem to work.

I have found the conversation here both interesting and helpful. Great community of commenters here, though that's not surprising given that they're Michael's.

Posted by: reader_iam at July 14, 2006 08:08 AM

Finally.

Lebanese leaders began talks Thursday evening that might extend government control to the southern border with Israel. Currently, Hezbollah fighters operate freely in the south. In a statement, the cabinet said only that the government had a right and duty to implement its power over all Lebanese territory. But officials speaking on condition of anonymity said sending the Lebanese army to the southern border was a possibility. Hezbollah, which is often dismissive of the Lebanese army's ability, has opposed such a move.

Do it, please.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/07/13/AR2006071300278.html

Posted by: SoCalJustice at July 14, 2006 08:31 AM

The Lebanese Army has to replace the Hezbollah on the border with Israel and disarm them for the good of very body in the region especially Lebanon they better do it fast before Hezbollah turns against the Lebanese people actually it just did dragging Israel into another conflict
see the latest images from the Modest at BauBau Photo Wire www.baubaunet.com

Posted by: Eyal at July 14, 2006 08:42 AM

To all Lebanese readers:

You don't like what's going on. Maybe you even blame the Israelis, and hate them for it. So what are you going to do about it??!!

Posted by: Yafawi at July 14, 2006 08:46 AM

Do you know what I think? You'll just sit around and complain while Israel destroys Hizballah for you. And then you'll complain that Israel should have done a better job.

Posted by: Yafawi at July 14, 2006 08:57 AM

Israel is killing civilians in bunches, the Lebanese Army could have done that quite well itself, thank you!

The only reason why the LAF did not engage Hezbollah yet is to prevent a civil war and civilian casualties of such extent.

Posted by: Lira at July 14, 2006 09:05 AM

The only reason why the LAF did not engage Hezbollah yet is to prevent a civil war and civilian casualties of such extent.

And now we're seeing the fruits of the LAF's inaction and the Lebanese govertment's failure to live up to its obligations.

You allow a Syrian/Iranian Islamo-theocratic "private militia" proxy sit on a legally uncontested border, and, shock, they either get:

1) bored
2) pissed that Hamas is getting all the print
3) look to maintain "relevance"

This is what happens when you transfer your responsibility to an outside party that might not share your exact concerns.

Posted by: SoCalJustice at July 14, 2006 09:13 AM

So Lira, just so I'm clear in understanding what you're arguing:

You're saying that it is Israel, and not Lebanon, that is supposed to suffer for the fact that Lebanon will not do what it is legally and morally obligated to do, right?

Posted by: SoCalJustice at July 14, 2006 09:21 AM

Nasrallah is hiding behind those civilians, most of whom support him apparently. Why do I say this? Because Israel dropped untold thousands of leaflets over Lebanon warning civilians to leave Hisbollah controlled areas for their own safety. If they have not left, then I can only conclude these civilians are not so "innocent" as they'd have us believe.

Posted by: Carlos at July 14, 2006 09:35 AM

ps., do you suppose Hesbollah also dropped leaflets over northern Israel warning people to evacuate for their own safety? I think we all know the answer to that question.

Posted by: Carlos at July 14, 2006 09:37 AM

Carlos - maybe not everyone got the leaflets or maybe it's not practical for everyone to move.

Everyone in New Orleans knew Katrina was coming but not everyone could get out - and that is in the United States, not Lebanon.

Posted by: SoCalJustice at July 14, 2006 09:44 AM

Food for thought from David Ignatius in today's Washington Post:

"By pounding the Beirut airport and other civilian targets yesterday, the Israelis have taken a step back in time -- to tactics that have been tried repeatedly in Lebanon and the Palestinian territories without much success. Many Lebanese will be angry at Hezbollah leader Hasan Nasrallah for provoking the crisis, but that won't translate into new control on the militia's actions. Instead, the outcome is likely to be similar to what has happened in Gaza over the past several weeks: Israeli attacks to free a captured soldier further weakened the Palestinian Authority without much damaging the terrorists...

"Israeli and American doctrine is premised on the idea that military force will deter adversaries. But as more force has been used in recent years, the deterrent value has inevitably gone down. That's the inner spring of this crisis: The Iranians (and their clients in Hezbollah and Hamas) watch the American military mired in Iraq and see weakness. They are emboldened rather than intimidated. The same is true for the Israelis in Gaza. Rather than reinforcing the image of strength, the use of force (short of outright, pulverizing invasion and occupation) has encouraged contempt."

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/07/13/AR2006071301670.html

Posted by: Markus at July 14, 2006 10:12 AM

the use of force (short of outright, pulverizing invasion and occupation) has encouraged contempt."

It was not Israeli use of force that has provoked Hisbollah's rocket attacks and border incursions. It was not Israeli use of force that provoked the 1,000+ rocket attacks into Israel from Gaza. On the contrary, what has provoked those attacks is Israel showing weakness by withdrawing from those areas.
It is not just a coincidink that that the rocket attacks into Israel originate from precisely those areas from which Israel has withdrawn. Thus are they rewarded.

Re "contempt" for Israel, perhaps he's right. But the Israelis don't care anymore whether terrorists love them or not. And if the merchants and shopkeepers of Lebanon can't control the Hisbollah mafia, then their contempt is also irrelevant. They just want an end to the rocket attacks, and dead people don't conduct rocket attacks.

Posted by: Carlos at July 14, 2006 10:27 AM

Mmmmm....Michael Totten said that no one in Lebanon supports Hizbullah? Well, it seems he hardly ever left the bars of Gemmayzieh in downtown Beirut to find out...not many Hizbullah supporters drink, needless to say...and two, MT doesn't possess the Arabic skills necessary to communicate with much of the non-Westernised Lebanese population that doesn't speak English, or have the cash to hit Beirut's night spots.
This editorial will no doubt give you blinkered bloggers much to rant about, but a perspective you won't read in many places as it was in Arabic...but translated here...
Abdel Wahab Badrakhan, a regular columnist for Al Hayat, wrote in the paper’s Arabic edition on July 13: “The Hezbollah operation in southern Lebanon was the best, most expected and necessary response to Israeli terrorism and brutality in Gaza. This reiterates the fact that Hezbollah has become specialized in deflating Israeli arrogance. This enhances its position on two levels: first, inside Lebanon, where there is a debate on disarming Hezbollah and dispensing with it; and, second, on the regional level by breathing new life into those who believe in Hezbollah in the face of official tendencies toward (military) inaction.

“Israel could have handled the crisis in Gaza more rationally, but the arrogance of power blinded it. There is no doubt that it will be heading toward another disastrous adventure if it tries to respond to Hezbollah's new challenge after Hamas decided to run the gauntlet. Israel will allow itself to exercise the utmost brutality against Lebanon, as it has done, and is doing in Gaza. It may do the same with Syria. It is not to be held accountable by the international community or the UN. The US, the EU, Russia and the UN went too far in ignoring Israeli crimes and violations.

“They turned a blind eye to the assassinations, the destruction of homes, the humiliation of the Palestinian people and the violation of their rights, to the extent that they have wrecked political efforts for peace. They gave the green light for extraordinaily criminal acts by the Israelis. In the name of a senseless 'war on terror,' the US and the rest of the international community disregarded all appeals to consider the issue of Palestinian and Arab prisoners in Israeli prisons. Most of them were kidnapped from their homes, in their own countries.

“The international community did not find it necessary to enforce the respect of human rights in the treatment of these prisoners. It did not find it necessary to enforce respect for the Geneva Conventions that deal with prisoners or with occupied territories. Moreover, the international community did not find it necessary to respect Palestinian democracy. It adopted the calls of the Israeli Occupation Authority to boycott the Palestinian Authority, which was elected by the Palestinians. It became involved in a fascist network for punishing and starving the Palestinian people.

“Then, finally, it supported a collective punishment campaign against Gaza and its people under the pretext of searching for a captured soldier. When the international community commits all these sins, or crimes, it should not be surprised when it is accused of being directly and deliberately responsible for giving the upper hand to extremism over moderation. The US turns a deaf ear to Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Morocco, ignoring law, reason and humanitarianism the moment the Palestinian issue clashes with Israeli interests and offends the arrogance of Israel.

“It is as though the US provokes reactions, such as kidnappings. It was notable, and rather insolent, that the international parties found nothing to do yesterday, and during the past two weeks, but appeal for the release of Israeli prisoners. The international community has not offered any pragmatic solutions for the Israeli aggression on Gaza and the consequent human tragedy in the Gaza Strip. If there is no significant international intervention, the declared Israeli attack against Lebanon - and perhaps against Syria as well - will target civilians in particular.

“The paradox is that it contradicts the essence of American policy, at least what Washington has declared to be its policy, assuming that it is true. What happened in South Lebanon is also a win-win situation for Iran, at the same time it is defending its powerful and distinct position. The situation also revives Syria in its attempts to restore control over the initiative in both the Lebanese and the Palestinian files. There is no doubt that linking the Lebanese Resistance (led by Hezbollah) to the Palestinian Resistance (led by Hamas), in this clear and open manner, constitutes a strategic step forward that the Israelis thought would never happen.

“A group of Lebanese officials felt extremely embarrassed yesterday because they could not ignore the fact that the Hezbollah operation is widely popular in Lebanon and the Arab World. On the other hand, questions have been raised about the necessity of taking the risk of exposing Lebanon to the dangers of an Israeli aggression that may destroy the economy. Certainly, the Hezbollah operation has proven once again that the significance of the Lebanese front remains unchanged. It is the spearhead of resistance, while neighboring fronts merely suffice with either watching or staging protests.”

Posted by: Paul at July 14, 2006 11:32 AM

Lira:

I hate to say I told you so, but I told you so.

Israel needs to destroy Hizb'allah so that Lebanon's "army" can redeploy to the south and all areas from which Hizb'allah has been cleared. Then Israel can withdraw, going back in whenever the Lebanese "army" needs help putting down any attempts at a Hizb'allah comeback. This is the only way to rid Lebanon of Syrian and Iranian inlfuence once and for all, which Lebanon supposedly desires.

Oh, but that will make it seem like Lebanon and Israel are in cahoots against their "brother Arabs"?

If you want Hizb'allah, Syria and Iran out of Lebanon, there is no other way to do it. Only by accepting Israeli help and, essentially, allying itself with Israel, will Lebanon ever be free.

Since you can't free Lebanon by yourselves, Israel is doing it for you. You should be cheering them on, not criticizing them.

You can't sleep with a dog and not get fleas. Lebanese civilians are dying because Lebanon, for whatever reason, made a Devil's pact with the terrorists. Those chickens are now coming home to roost, and this time they've got the Avian Flu.

Posted by: Ephraim at July 14, 2006 11:48 AM

Paul,

I have been reading opinions and descriptions like this for like 20 years. It is not that they are not true. They undoubtedly account for a portion of political reality. But for us in Israel they are irrelevant.

Our experience is that the Arab 'street' and the Arab leaders will be against us whatever we do, and that they will always interpret anything but crude force as a sign of weakness. And there are sections of Western public opinion that act the same - they criticize us whatever we do. Any willingness to accommodate is seen as a clever ploy.

The collective lesson for us was: good behaviour does not pay because the levels of trust are that low. Where there is no trust, force mediates.

Posted by: Disk on Key at July 14, 2006 12:47 PM

~~~Hezbollah will not end this conflict, which means we live at the mercy of the Israelis.~~~

I saw somebody write this... But shouldn't it be:

"Hezbollah will not end this conflict, which means we live at the mercy of the Hezbollah" ??

Isn't it them that throw Lebanon into turmoil now?

Tse.

Posted by: tsedek at July 14, 2006 01:29 PM

~~~~~“The Hezbollah operation in southern Lebanon was the best, most expected and necessary response to Israeli terrorism and brutality in Gaza.~~~~
===

I read this hereabove, but that can't possibly be the case. Even Nasrallah, the creep himself, has said this operation was planned 5 months in advance and Israel is not yet 5 months in Gaza back...

Tse.

Posted by: tsedek at July 14, 2006 01:32 PM

~~~Hezbollah will not end this conflict, which means we live at the mercy of the Israelis.~~~

What? Hesbollah will not end the conflict, yet they live at the mercyof ISRAEL????

ROFLMAO!

You don't need a Phd in middle eastern affairs to know what's going on over there.

Posted by: Carlos at July 14, 2006 02:05 PM

I don't question that a military response to Hizbolla's incursion into Isreal was justified, but I do question whether attacking Lebanon was the right strategy. Even though they operate on Lebanese soil, Hizbolla is armed and aided by Syria and Iran. For its part the Lebanese government has attempted to force Hizbolla to disarm, but many of the elected officials in South Lebanon are Hizbolla or sympathizers, and while not a majority, there are enough to veto efforts to block disarmament. Thus, disarmament would have risked a civil war in Lebanon, with Syria waiting in the wings and chomping at the bit for the opportunity to re-occupy Northern Lebanon, an outcome which wouldn't have been any better to Isreal than the current situation.

So as an American, and one who is pro-Isreal, I am wondering, why retaliate against Lebanon and not Syria? The latter seems like the more logical choice.

Posted by: Sean P at July 14, 2006 02:51 PM

It's hard to imagine a full scale war against Syria, but why else would Israel be mobilizing it's reserves?

Posted by: Carlos at July 14, 2006 03:06 PM

If Israel can destroy Hizb'allah in Lebanon without attacking Syria, this will show that both Syria and Iran are paper tigers who cannot come to the support or aid of their proxies in spite of all their big talk. If this can be demonstrated without attacking Syria proper, much will be accomplished. That is, Syrian and Iranian "deterrence" will suffer a blow and Israel's deterrence will be re-established. So Israel needs to pound Hizb'allah unilt there is nothing left. This will deprive Syria and Iran of their only way to get at Israel over a land border. With Irael firmly in control of the Golan Heights, Syria and Iran are pretty much stuck if Lebanon is lost.

To prevent this, it may very well be that Syria and Iran will up the ante. Israel should maneuver them into doing this, rather than being the first to widen the conflict beyond Lebanon.

I do not say this because I think that Israel shouldn't attack Syria. I think they should, and I think they will. It is just that there is no doubt that Iran's intention is to provoke Israel to do just that in a way that benefits them. Therefore, I think that the best choice is for Israel to do just that to Iran and Syria first: by destroying Hizb'allah in Lebanon root and branch, force Syria and Iran to put up or shut up.

The hasty stroke often goes awry.

Posted by: Ephraim at July 14, 2006 03:26 PM

I am a 13 year old boy that lives in australia and came from lebanon during the war , i stayed 13 days under the bombing of israel (IN AYTAROUN NEAR BINT JBEIL) and whoever sais that israel wasnt going for civilians is a liar because 41 civilians from aytaroun died and only ""5"" hezbollah fighters were martyred ,,,, but anyway israel got bashed,, so DIE ISRAEL

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