July 15, 2006

My Friend is a Refugee

by Michael J. Totten

My friend Lebanon.Profile at the Lebanese Political Journal once guest blogged for me while I was in Egypt. He is one of the most open-minded people in Lebanon when it comes to the Arab-Israeli conflict, and I have linked to some of his posts in the past on this very subject. Israel has lost him. And he has lost his country.
You've made this country unliveable for the people fighting to disarm Hezbollah.

Guess what? I'm leaving. Yep. Me.

Where am I going? Syria. Didn't want to, but I have to. The people we marched against are the ones you sent us begging to. The people who assassinated our leaders, kept us from having an operating democracy, and who armed Hezbollah are laughing it up because they've won the game because of you.

Bashar Assad said Lebanon would be destroyed if he left. I didn't know the Israelis would play into his game. It's not surprising that Syrian-allied Hezbollah started the mess, but you guys are just vicious.

All my Hezbollah supporting friends are sticking around. They call the rest of us cowards. I guess we are. We want to do scientific research. We want our children to learn how to play the piano. We want to watch our stock porfolios burgeon. We can't do that here any more.

I tried to sympathize with you. I didn't support Hezbollah, and if you look at the posts before this conflict began, I was maligning the political parties that oppose Hezbollah for not doing enough.

I even gave you guys the benefit of the doubt at the beginning of this, as did most Lebanese. Even the Shia, Christians, and Druze in South Lebanon understood your position. Not any more.

Oh, well. I'm a refugee.
Posted by Michael J. Totten at July 15, 2006 08:40 AM

No offense to your friend, but that's the whinest post I've ever read on here.

I read all over the blogosphere about Lebanese who were against Hezbollah, but didn't want a war. Apparently it's okay to not like Hez, and just ignore the fact they shoot rockets at Isreali citizens regularly. Hey, if the bombs aren't falling on your head, why not mind the status quo except for bitching over a cup of coffee?

But hey, if some Lebanese want to use blame against the IDF to cover their essentially do nothing stance on Hezbollah, whatever. And no, talking isn't doing something. Sometimes you have to take action. The Lebanese people were too weak willed, and now the IDF has to defend it's people. If the Lebanese had stepped up to the plate totally this wouldn't have happened.

Weak. And sad. But that's life.

Posted by: Spade at July 15, 2006 08:47 AM

Your friend ... and everyone else... should definitely read this. He might grow up.


And he should read the rest of Imshin's blog which, other than Iraq the Model, may be the best blog in the ME.

Posted by: Roger L. Simon at July 15, 2006 08:56 AM

You are a real class act, Spade. You expect Lebanese to restart the 1975 civil war in order to prevent this? It is and was insanely not in their interest to do that.

Have some sympathy for me and my friends today, or at least respectfully disagree.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at July 15, 2006 09:00 AM

I don't believe in kicking a man when he's down, especially a good man like him. But you don't win your freedom by playing the piano and watching your stock portfolios. It is exactly that kind of "Gucci" revolution attitude that finally forced Israel to step in and do your dirty work for you.

Posted by: Carlos at July 15, 2006 09:02 AM


What realistic expectation did lebop and people like him have of curbing HA? What I'm wondering is, did this have any other way to go with HA being a loaded gun in S Lebanon waiting for Iran to pull the trigger?

My sense of reading the Lebanese blogs fro three days (good aggregator at http://openlebanon.org/), is:

1. We condemn HA and understand Israel's initial response
2. We can't do anything abouut HA, we are weak
3. (as the response escalated) - This is too much, damn Israel
4. (now emerging) - maybe HA will fall and we can have our country back

I mean, just what options do they have, bearing in mind that as much as 50 percent supported HA in the first place?

Posted by: jdwill at July 15, 2006 09:09 AM

It really saddens me, the number of people who seem to feel that, with barely a year to make a start, the Lebanese should somehow have managed to totally neutralize Hezbollah. Sure, if they'd had 5 years or more free of Syria to work on it -- that would be another story. But this fast? What kind of miracle workers do these guys think live in Lebanon?

From what I can see, Hezbollah miscalculated and is now trash talking to try to cover it up. And Israel has taken a reasonable response and undercut themselves by spreading their reaction beyond anything that might possibly impact Hezbollah. I can see striking Hezbollah targets in south Beriut. I can even maybe see striking the airport to keep Hezbollah from moving people and supplies in and out. But dropping leaflets threatening the American University (as reported by Lebanon.Profile on his web site)? Other than convincing all the non-Hezbollah Lebanese that they have no hope, what does that accomplish?

Posted by: wj at July 15, 2006 09:10 AM

I agree with Spade & Carlos. Poor little Lebs. If they cannot take control of their country, then accept the consequences or leave the country. Don't blame Israel for defending themselves.

Oh, respectfully disagreeing Michael.


Posted by: Ron Snyder at July 15, 2006 09:12 AM

Good post, Michael.

I'm all for disproportionate "Chicago Way" style militry responses to terrorists and the states that harbor them, but Lebanon isn't Hezbolla's host, their its hostage. Why Isreal didn't go after Syria makes no sense, and seems to be playing into Syria's hands.

And I gotta say this, attacking someone for wanting a normal life is just plain wrong. As long as Hezbolla was in Lebanon, war was inevitable, and in hindsight maybe more people in Lebanon should have seen that. But the desire to pretend you're at peace -- all evidence to the contrary -- is a near-universal one. How many Americans on September 10 were convinced that, no matter what happens in the Middle East, we'd be safe here? How many Isrealis believed that if they just gave Arafat everything he wanted (or at least everything he told the west he wanted) there would be peace? (hint: enough to elect a leader who did just that). A little compassion is in high order here.

ps: Why is your friend leaving for Syria? I thought Northern Lebanon was not under attack.

Posted by: Sean P at July 15, 2006 09:17 AM


Like a good man once said, war isn't the ugliest of things. And it looks like they got a war anyway.

So yes, if that's what it took the Lebanese should've done it themselves. The Lebanese tried to play the middle ground. "Let's leave Hezbollah alone and hope they don't kill us, and hope the IDF doesn't get fed up and kill us." Extremely naive and dangerous. And it finally broke.

And then people start fleeing. Hell, they still don't want to pick a side. The government says "Oh, well, we don't, you know, control Hezbollah." They want, as your friend says (and others pointed to), the stock portfolios, and education, without the pain of having to clean their own house. Ignoring the evil that is Hezbollah was never going to make it go away. And they did next to nothing about it.

And now they're still running away from the problem. They've just added their feet to the intellectual fleeing from the problem.

Posted by: Spade at July 15, 2006 09:29 AM

Sean P,

And I gotta say this, attacking someone for wanting a normal life is just plain wrong.
As long as Hezbolla was in Lebanon, war was inevitable, and in hindsight maybe more people in Lebanon should have seen that.

I'm curious, who is being attacked for wanting a normal life? The first sentence seems to conflict with the second. Can you clarify?

Posted by: jdwill at July 15, 2006 09:29 AM

hi michael,
i've been waiting to see your reaction to all this. i feel for your friend and i wish this could be otherwise. unfortunately, from israel's point of view, the fact that there are many lebanese who oppose hezbollah doesn't change the strategic realities on the northern border. the democratic elements in lebanon don't mean that much to us if they cannot control the country and prevent attacks against israel. most especially, if they cannot prevent syrian-iranian agression against us via hezbollah.
i too would like to see syria pay militarily for this, but can you imagine the international reaction if we made a preemptive attack on syria? we're already being condemned for how far we've gone.
at any rate, this entire situation is ugly and going to get worse. i hope your friend can return to a free lebanon after its over.

Posted by: benjamin kerstein at July 15, 2006 09:31 AM

RE: Your friend is a refugee.
I may have difficulty with the translation but as I understand it, if only Israel had continued to endure daily attacks, murders, kidnapping, and threats, then your friend would be able to live his live in peace, manage his stock portfolio, and send his children to piano lessons.

Of course, actually doing anything to disarm the murderous thugs that have started all of this would have also interfered with his happy life.

I can certainly sympathize with that.

Posted by: Ernest at July 15, 2006 09:41 AM

It really saddens me, the number of people who seem to feel that, with barely a year to make a start, the Lebanese should somehow have managed to totally neutralize Hezbollah.

On the contrary, most of us know that the Gucci revolutaries had no real choices. But neither did Israel. If Lebanon.Profile was not himself a personal victim of these circumstances he would see it too. But I don't begrudge a man his feelings when he's been forced to flee his home as a refugee. He gets pretty wide latitude. He's just wrong, that's all.

Posted by: Carlos at July 15, 2006 09:46 AM

benjamin kerstein,

Reading Ambassador Dan Gillerman's speech on your blog,

...and did not obey the repeated resolutions of this aghast council.

Probably not your typo, but a hilarious unintended pun on the UNSC all the same.
Aghast for August. And we probably will be.

Posted by: jdwill at July 15, 2006 09:51 AM

At this point, it looks to me that Israel is being more effective at destroying the opponents of Hizballah in Lebanon than the organization itself. It may be that in the long term that Hiz' unilateral aggression against Israel solidifies the domestic opposition against it but I would not bet the farm on it. Further, I doubt seriously that anyone in the Israeli government or IDF has given this much thought. I suspect that they are more interested in seeming tough irrespective of whether or not that advances Israel's interests. There is no plausible strategic rationale for destroying the port in Junieh etc. However, it may distract from the government's and IDF's piss poor performance leading up to and during this crisis.

Posted by: Andy Friedman at July 15, 2006 09:52 AM

Michael - I'm sorry your friends are going through so much pain and suffering. I'm sure it is extermely difficult to follow the events and know personally its impacts. Is there a better way for the Israelis to go after Hizbullah? It truly is terrible to see Lebanon incurring so much damage right now, but I'm not sure what alternatives the Israelis have right now. I'd love to see Syria and Iran get their comeuppance for orchestrating all this.

Do you think that with time your friends will come to see the Israeli response as understandable, and focus their anger towards Hizbullah? Will it be sufficient for them to actually do something about Hizbullah?
I realize the dynamics here are complex and quickly changing.

Hoping for the best.

Posted by: Brendan at July 15, 2006 09:52 AM

"You've made this country unliveable for the people fighting to disarm Hezbollah."

This says it all! It's not Hezbollah that made the country unliveable, right?

And, wtf: "the people fighting to disarm Hezbollah."
I guess he means people like himself, who seek the bosom of the mother of Hezbollah for suckle-comfort as Hezbollah calls down destruction on "innocent" Lebanon. What pap! I guess he means people like himself who have joined themselves to supporters of Hezbollah ("All my Hezbollah supporting friends are sticking around.") while claiming to have been "fighting" to disarm Hezbollah, right? What unmitigated crap!

In self-righteousness, this guy effectively pleads that his left hand should not be punished for offences committed by his right hand.

At least he was Oh,so generous at first, having given Israel "the benefit of the doubt."

Perhaps it would be best if he and all Lebanese who think like him were to move to Syria, where such "doubts" and romantic claim to "fighting" of Hezbollah will no longer be allowed to cloud his thinking. He would ultimately be a better friend to Lebanese freedom by openly joining the Syrians and Hezbollah in war on Israel, for there would no more pretense of neutrality between what he considers the equal causes of Hezbollah and Israel -- he could be actively engaged as an active supporter of Hezbollah rather than currently supporting terrorists only passively and expecting safety thereby.

Thus this crisis begins to reveal who he, and his fellow Lebanese, really are in their hearts. Such clarity has to be incredibly painful, but it's long overdue and absolutely necessary.

Posted by: Levans at July 15, 2006 09:59 AM

If your country is run by terrorists with 21st century weapons and evesdropping ability, then the proper response is to hunker down and try to be invisible. One may pray that God will punish them if it is done silently. And of course, one might say (in English deliberately spoken badly so that one can deny) "I don't like Hezbollah", but never directly to Hezbollah.

And when the Israelis come to town self preservation makes one cry out against the Israelis just in case Hezbollah survives the Israeli attack.

This is not cowardess. It is discretion, the better part of valor. Brave men die quickly, but cowards stay to bear witness.

There is more to revolution than pretty girls dancing in the street. Now comes phase 2 of the Cedar revolution. If Lebanese really dislike terrorists, now is the time to tell the rat killer where the rats are hiding. Now is the time when a little courage might have a meaningful result.

Lebanese have too long had to choose between cowardice and martyrdom - neither option is acceptable. Now a third choice is universally available - Lebanese can join Israeli troops in fighting digging ouy the rats and destroying them and their supporters root and branch.

Posted by: sol vason at July 15, 2006 10:10 AM

I think Lebanon is the wrong target. I think that if Israel was really intersted in resolving this situation militarily they would take the fight to Damascus instead of Beirut.

It seems awfully convenient to critize the Lebanese blogger in a war zone from the comfort of our mostly American surburan homes.

Posted by: Convulsion at July 15, 2006 10:21 AM

Sol, brilliantly laid out. The choice you describe is desperate, but the choice to temporize or try to opt out is fully as desparate, and even more self-destructive.

Posted by: Levans at July 15, 2006 10:30 AM

Andy said "I doubt seriously that anyone in the Israeli government or IDF has given this much thought."
Somehow I doubt that. Living under military attack and then terrorist attack, along with worldwide condemnation for decades tends to focus the mind.
A pity about Michael's friend. We can only grieve for them and offer thanks that we don't face the same set of difficult choices....at least, not yet.

Posted by: Jim,MtnViewCA,USA at July 15, 2006 10:37 AM

The claim is that since Lebanon's (purported) government did not control the part of (supposed) "Lebanon" from which unprovoked acts of war were waged against Israel, then Lebanon is not responsible.

Fine, but question: When the incident occurred did Lebanon's (purported) government say to Israel, "We deplore those acts, we accept our responsibility for them in our failure to control our territory, and we beg you to tell us what we might do to aid you in your fight against your enemies"? Did they move to arrest/kill those responsible at all?

Instead of, you know, issuing standard rhetorical condemnation and then opposing any tangible action from Israel.

If not, then if he must blame someone other than Hezbollah, why isn't lebanon.profile angry at his government?

The question is also raised why Israel would bomb ports, etc. So that Israel's enemies cannot get armed by outsiders, cannot escape, and cannot transport prisoners to e.g. Iran? Again: if the (supposed) government of Lebanon were doing its job, that would not have been necessary, they would have permitted Israel free access and helped them to cordon off the Hezbollah-controlled territory on their own, to the extent capable.

Lebanon's government, which we are to believe is really really opposed to Hezbollah (really), nevertheless did nothing to help a victim of Hezbollah's unprovoked act of war to defeat them. That is where I would think innocent Lebanese ought to direct their anger - to the government that failed to side with a victim of the rogue militia on its territory that they claim to deplore so much, and in such failure, placed her citizenry in danger. That the government "can't" do it may be the reason they don't, but it is not an all-purpose excuse requiring inaction from Israel. It is, rather, an admission that the (purported) government of Lebanon doesn't actually control all of Lebanon; there is a de facto rogue state within Lebanon (which nevertheless has enjoyed rather free movement/economy in Lebanon proper).

Finally, some commenters criticize other commenters for criticizing. Let us be clear that endorsing Israel's right to her current course does not preclude us from having sympathy for those innocent Lebanese caught in the crossfire caused by Hezbollah's despicable actions and their government's gross negligence. It does however lead us to clamor for blame to be placed on the proper place. Respectful disagreement.

Posted by: xmath at July 15, 2006 10:46 AM

jdwil: My reference to "attacking" someone was specifically directed at the commenters on this blog who have criticised the author of the post linked by Totten for being lazy, complacent, etc. I would also refer you to Convulsion's comments, as he said pretty much what I was attempting to, only more succinctly.

Posted by: Sean P at July 15, 2006 10:47 AM

I'm glad you were able to post, Michael. We've missed you but understood the necessity.

I've been concerned for all those in Lebanon recently, but am dismayed and disappointed by your friend's reaction. He almost sounds like a fair-weather citizen, wanting all that freedom and democracy offers but not willing to pay any cost to achieve it or maintain it. (Sounds like a lot of people in the US, but that's for another thread.)

As bad as it seems from reports, it still appears as though Israel is holding back from massive general devastation. Most damage appears to be directed specifically at Hezbollah and even towards further isolating Syria from Lebanon. This sounds like it could be an assist from Israel to allow the Lebanese government to disarm Hezbollah.

I suspect Israel would not permit Syria to return to Lebanon in the aftermath, either, so Lebanon's sovereignty should be further protected in this regard.

It all goes back to your friend's willingness to participate in his country's struggle for freedom. Freedom doesn't just happen. It must be earned and maintained. I hope he and many others are up to the task.

Posted by: E T USN 71-78 at July 15, 2006 10:48 AM

Michael, can you help me get better informed about the ongoing conflict between Lebanon and Israel. In particular, can you either opine yourself or refer me to some kind of objective discussion of the Shebaa Farms issue? At first blush this comes across as the last fig leaf for Hezbollah to hide its real reason for wanting to fight Israel. The two sources I referred to clearly came down on the side that Shebaa Farms is part of the Golan Heights, belonging to Syria, and that Syria, in spite of verbal statements to the contrary, has never formally renounced its claim to those lands.

Aside from that, the unresolved issues are prisoners and the fabled arab solidarity with the plight of the Palestinians. Am I missing anything else other than general unwillingness to accept the existence of Israel? It is so hard to have an opinion about anything in this region, but it helps listening to others who know a bit more and don't appear to have an axe to grind.

Posted by: Karl B. at July 15, 2006 11:06 AM

Honestly, I'm astonished about some of the reactions to Michael's post. A lot of you have been talking about 'gucci revolutionaries.' But let's be fair here. Are their lifestyles, or what they want from their lives, that much different to ours? (and I know I am making an assumption about where a lot of Michael's readers come from).

Over the past ten years they've been able to lead more or less normal lives. Over the past five years they've lived in an affluent city that's more mediterranean than middle Eastern. Over the past year their country has regained a measure of independence.

If you had been Michael's friend, and even if you had disagreed with Hizbollah what had you done? Gone into the streets? Taken up arms? Why? Political dialogue was on-going and there was a hope that - slowly - things would move to normality.

And what would you be doing now? I bet you'd be cursing whoever is doing the bombing. I've never had the misfortune of living through an air raid, but I suspect it makes it difficult to rationalise who did what and when.

One of the refreshing things about reading Lebanese blogs like the Perpetual Refugee (who sometimes comments on Michael's blog) is that, whatever their profound differences with Israel, the tone is by and large free of the "Zionist entity" style screeching you get in a lot of the Arab world and hear on the street of countries at peace with Israel, like Jordan. If you read Perpetual Refugee's comments on other Lebanese blogs today you'll see he's radically changed his world view. That's sad, and I suspect one of the things Hezbollah was after.

The only winners here today are the people who have an interest in cranking up the temperature as much as possible. Hezbollah must be loving stories like this at the moment (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/middle_east/5182564.stm)
and I can predict that Arab chests all around the middle East are puffed up with pride following that boat missile strike yesterday. Hezbollah has gained credibility and status in the region that they certainty didn't have a week ago. Weakened or neutralised? Far from it.

Don't get me wrong. I'm not for a minute suggesting some kind of moral equivalence between Israel and Hezbollah. Far from it. I'm also all in favour of effective action to take them out. I'm just not sure destroying the civillian infrastructure is going to achieve anything...except to destroy the civillain infrastructure (remember, guerilla groups tend not to need roads, airports, refineries etc). In fact having one of the most clued up militaries and intelligence services in the world, the Israeli army will know that Hezbollah isn't just going to crumble after a bit of bombing. It probably even won't crumble after a full scale invasion. So what exactly is their end game here?

Perhaps a more effective way would have been for Israel to launch its own raids and take some senior Hezbollah figures hostage. Not too many people outside of the Hezbollah areas would have shed a tear. It would have shown Israel to be doing something. And it would have put any prisoner exchange on a much more even keel.

Posted by: Dirk at July 15, 2006 11:17 AM

What most commenters here are forgetting is that Lebanon has never really been a wholly intact and independent nation. Many would argue that much of eastern Lebanon (if not the whole country) is part of Syria.

After its independence at the end of WWII fell into the same limbo (or purgatory) status that many nations suffered during the cold war and ultimately was abandonded by Europe.

The west is unwilling to take direct action for fear of provoking the mullahs, and the mullahs fear direct provocation of the west.

It sucks to live in a stale-mate, but that is the case and it won't end until there is a war or a surrender.


Posted by: Moose Dung at July 15, 2006 11:23 AM

"I tried to sympathize with you. I didn't support Hezbollah, and if you look at the posts before this conflict began, I was maligning the political parties that oppose Hezbollah for not doing enough."

And exactly how did that help get back the Israeli Soldiers seized by this 'terror' group, or prevent rockets from raining down on Israeli towns?

More precisely ,at what date was the Lebanese Government going to establish control over South Lebanon ? I'm sure it was right on the top of the 'to-do' listing.

My guess is about the 12th of never.

It is clear to me and it's obviously very clear to all Israelis that they really can never have any true Arab 'friends'. When push comes to shove, they will always be dependent only upon their own resolve and abilities.

If Lebanon wanted Peace all it to do was ask. As others succinctly said earlier, Peace was and is never going to break out when Hizbollah was effectively calling the shots and 'tolerating' the sham 'Government' in Beirut, as a convenient 'beard'.

It is OK for Israelis to die as long as the 'cultured elite' in Beirut are free of Hizbollah influence. Fair enough. We can all understand that logic. But to expect the Israelis to buy in to it as well shows a belief structure based upon some truly unusual concepts.

Posted by: dougf at July 15, 2006 11:24 AM

Cry me a river. "Fighting to disarm Hezbollah." In what parallel universe do you live where this "fighting" has been going on?

You Lebanese made your deal with the devil; if it's getting too hot for you now -- and it is -- try to member that next time.

If you ever get another chance.

Posted by: Joel Rosenberg at July 15, 2006 11:51 AM

Second dougf's post. There's a Russian proverb: "Your neighbor's tootheache won't hurt you." Michael's friend's "support" apparently amounted to little more than regretful sighs at the news of the latest atrocity against the Jews, before flipping over to the financial pages.

There is such a thing as suffering the consequences for one's inaction, you know.

Posted by: The Sanity Inspector at July 15, 2006 11:51 AM

I expect the Lebanese to do what's in their interest. Harboring Hezbollah -- taking them into their goverment, and letting them do as they please --- has predictable consequences.

Sure, it's a lot easier to sip coffee and smoker cigarettes while watching the waves breaking on the Beirut shoreline, and ignore Hezbollah moving quite literally tens of thousands of rockets into the south, but it's an illusory, and transient peace; the only question is when it'll be broken, not whether.

Hate the Israelis? Go ahead. But do remember that if you Lebanese don't put Hezbollah down, the IDF will.

Posted by: Joel Rosenberg at July 15, 2006 11:55 AM

Roger Simon returns from a day coasting around SoCal, his skin lightly parboiled from spiriting around in the sun from shop to shop. He boils a latte, and flicks on his PC. He visits Totten's blog and sees the latter's friend, an uppity Leb author of the Lebanese Political Journal, has voiced despair over being bombed out of his neighborhood by Israel! Simon's response: "He might grow up."

Behold, the analytic genius and profound humanity underpinning Pajamas Media!

Posted by: John-Paul Pagano at July 15, 2006 11:57 AM

The direciton this thread is going in sickens me. Let me descirbe a scenario for you, an abusive husband attacks the police so the police decide to shoot the battered wife(Lebanon) because the cops don't want to take on the abusive husband(Syria) because he has a politically powerful brother(Iran).

Why are you blaming the Lebanese civilians for actions planned out in Damascus and Tehran.

Posted by: Convulsion at July 15, 2006 12:03 PM

"It is clear to me and it's obviously very clear to all Israelis that they really can never have any true Arab 'friends'."

Of course not. Not for a long time anyway. Opinion on the Arab 'street' is far too polarised and I take it as a given that the majority of Arab public opinion, imagines that Israel can eventually be wiped out just like the Crusader Kingdoms were 800 years ago. Arabs have a long view of history and remember that it took 200 years to get rid of the Crusaders. Israel has only been going for 60. Hence all the Hamas 'offers' of a long term ceasefire for '67 withdrawl.

But while Israel will never have any "friends" in the Middle East, a lot of people in Lebanon at least accepted Israel's existence and wanted peace. I say people, the Govt would obviously never have dared take this line. However in the context of the Middle East, that's progress.

So I still wonder whether the Israelis are achieving anything here except strengthening Hizbollah and losing people like Michael's friend - a section of society that it's surely in Israel's interest to be strengthened.

Like I said in an earlier comment, what exactly is the end game here? If destroying airports will achieve your ultimate goal well, fine. But you're not dealing with a conventional enemy here and unconventional enemies need to be dealt with in an unconventional way.

I can't help feeling that a stronger leader on the Israeli side, with more military experience, would have shown more patience and adopted a smarter strategy - maybe akin to the one adopted after Munich in 1972.

Posted by: Dirk at July 15, 2006 12:04 PM

I truly feel for the people of Lebanon. They've been dealt 7 2 off suit and are in a horrible position.

But, I'm sorry, buy what Michael's friend is selling.

As I said, I understand that Lebanon was/is in a very tough position. But Mike's friend can not expect Israel to let things go because his country is not strong enough to deal with the foriegn backed militia that controls the southern part of the country.

Based on media reports that I have seen it appears that Israel has concentrated on Hezb and transportation targets. They are not firebombing Beruit or lobbing missiles into non Hezb infested civillian areas (as Hezb is).
Israel is determined to deal with the threat on their northern border once and for all.

Lets hope that Lebanon can deploy their Army into the southern region once Israel has cleaned it up a bit.

Unfortunately Michael's friend may have to move again in 72 hours. I guess Iran is his next stop.

Posted by: MarcoBlogo at July 15, 2006 12:33 PM

Mr. Totten:

Perhaps you could take a moment to explain what you think the Israeli's should have done in response to the cross-border kidnappings and rocket attacks. You mention a "peace process", but do you truly think an entity like Hizbollah is going to participate in such a thing? Is attempting negotiation the proper response to murder and kidnapping?

P.S. I have always enjoyed your blog

Posted by: Michael Smith at July 15, 2006 12:46 PM

I'm sorry but I have to concur with some of the other posters here...the Lebanon.Profile really did seem to be whiny and delusional.

"Oh listen to me, I like Israel, except when they defend themselves! Then I'll take the side of their mortal enemies."

We don't need guys like him on our side. Bon voyage (and don't bother to come back)!

Posted by: MF at July 15, 2006 12:49 PM

Michael: Thank you for the post. I'm truly astonished by this thread; Dirk's 11:17 post was absolutely correct. John Dewey argued that moral imagination was a basic component of empathy; ask yourself how you would respond if your country had been wracked with civil war and chaos, and after years of occupation you had just turned the corner and were trying to construct democratic institutions? Likewise, how would you feel if you had to leave your home to go live under the auspices of a Baath'ist dictatorship? Frankly, if anyone answers the first question by saying, "I would have immediately turned on Hizbullah and re-kindled a civil war which had the potential to turn into a regional conflagration", I'm sceptical, to put it mildly. And yes, let me anticipate the obvious response: I'm absolutely sympathetic to the plight of Isralis who constantly live under the threat of terror. Frankly, I'm disgusted with people on both sides of the debate who, for whatever reason, are absoutely incapable of showing the least amount of compassion for fellow humans-not Lebnanese, not Israelis, but fellow humans-who are caught up in the maelstrom of history, against their own will.

Posted by: Jonathan at July 15, 2006 12:53 PM

I feel for the Lebanese. But they did make a deal with the devil even if there was no other viable option. They can't be too surprised, what did they think would happen? Hezbollah will never disarm unless they are forced to, especially with the backing of Syria and Iran. Why would they? The Lebanese were screwed - a weak government and army, crazy Syrian leaders wanting them to die, crazy Iranian leaders wanting them to die, Israeli leaders unhappy with them since Hezbollah could operate with impunity in Lebanon, the US and other Western countries unhappy with Hezbollah as well, and on and on. Israel was going to do something about it sooner or later, and they chose sooner. I don't know that I would say that the Israelis are the good guys in the conflict but I would say that Hezbollah are a bunch of bad guys.

My wild, unsubstantiated speculation is that Israel is really after the nuke facilities in Iran and Hezbollah is the excuse to get there. I'm guessing that Israel sees Hezbollah as a pain-in-the-ass but Iranian nukes is an unacceptable risk to them. Three reasons - Iran is continuing with their nuke program, nobody is stopping Iran's nuke program, and the crazy Iranian leaders could possibly accept a lose-lose nuclear war with Israel. Even if it is a very small probability it's one that may not be seen as acceptable to the Israeli government.

Posted by: markytom at July 15, 2006 01:03 PM

Michael, LP and others who feel the same way:

I am sorry that circumstances have changed your minds about who the real enemy is.

And, LP, I'm sorry you're moving to a country that is largely responsible for the existence of that enemy.

And I hope things go well for you personally.

But, to all those - including Michael - who think that the Israelis should be targetting Damascus and Tehran - instead of where Hezbollah is located - all I can say is that I bet the Israelis wish they could do that.

But look at what's happening - how much "international condemnation" they receive for just attacking Hezbollah back where it lives (sadly Beirut - unforunately for everyone else in Beirut, and South Lebanon).

Re: Syria and Iran - even though all the "smart people" know they are ultimately responsible, because the Lebanese did not do anything to rid themselves of Hezbollah or even ask for international help to do it (or even, i don't know, state, categorically, that it is Syria and Iran who have made half of Lebanon Hezbollahland and that we don't want that) - that Israel cannot attack Syria and Iran without the entire world immediately going batshit.

We have Lebanon to thank for that fact.

So all of your considerations are meaningless because the Lebanese have done nothing, physically or verbally, to help the Israelis get these terrorist fucks (sorry) off their fucking (sorry) back.

This is so infuriating. You don't want Israel to defend itself? Than at least help them NOT have to do it in the first place.

This is the consequences of so much inaction on YOUR part.

I almost threw up watching Saniora's speech this morning.

He basically condemned the Middle East and the Arab World to severl more decades of never having to take responsibility for anything, ever.

It's tragic.

You, LP, and your govenrment, had a responsibility that you refused to live up to, and refused to ask for help (probalby for all of the typical reasons in the Middle East - "can't upset the apple cart," "they're viewed as 'liberators' to many, so they get the kid gloves," "can't be seen to be pro-U.S. or pro-Israel, because then we're 'collaborators.')

And the Israelis are just supposed to sit there and play "catch the Hezbollah missle or rpg."

They've been gone for SIX YEARS. And they were only there in the first place because of Yasser Arafat.

So sad.

Posted by: SoCalJustice at July 15, 2006 01:06 PM

Michael Smith,

What should Israel have done instead? They should have treated Hezbollahland as a country, which it basically is, and attacked it. They should have treated Lebanon as a separate country, which it basically is, and left it alone.

They should not have bombed Central Beirut, which was monolithically anti-Hezbollah. They should not have bombed my old neighborhood, which was monolithically anti-Hezbollah. They should not have bombed the Maronite city of Jounieh, which was not merely anti-Hezbollah but also pro-Israel.

Jounieh is no longer pro-Israel.

Israel thinks everyone hates them, and it's not true. But they will make it so if they do not pay more attention to the internal characteristics of neighboring countries. "The Arabs" do not exist as a bloc except in the feverish dreams of the Nasserists and the Baath.

Bombing neutrals, persuadables, and friends is strategically stupid. And cruel.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at July 15, 2006 01:10 PM

I am never stunned at the way an Israeli raction to acts of war are perceived by Arab citizens of this world.

Blame the Jew game when it is not convenient to blame your enemies has been the specialty of Europe for thousands of years and the Arab world has perfected it in the last century.

God Bless you Lebanon Profile.

Remove the 'blame the jew' prism from your eyes. Freedom isn't free.


Posted by: GA at July 15, 2006 01:16 PM

Dirk says: "...But while Israel will never have any "friends" in the Middle East, a lot of people in Lebanon at least accepted Israel's existence and wanted peace."

So what? To what end, what good? Obviously, a very "lot of people in Lebanon" equally accepted Hezbollah's existence and power while also "wanting" peace (not to mention the "lot of people" who accept Hezbollah and support Hezbollah's war on Israel). Peace and Hezbollah were never compatible, and those who pretended they could be were not honest, either fooling themselves or simply lying to everyone else. Such wishes for peace are worth spit; they guarantee the opposite.

And, Dirk: "Like I said in an earlier comment, what exactly is the end game here? If destroying airports will achieve your ultimate goal well, fine." Sorry, but that is just silly. Its unstated premise is that Israel should ignore kidnappings, rockets attacks on ships and civilians as mere nuisances, generally ignore deadly threats from the northern flank, and concern itself only with some wonderfully pure strategy in an "end game."

The Israelis may yet make unwise moves in this war, but the attacks made up to this time are not in that catefory.

Posted by: Levans at July 15, 2006 01:16 PM

One day a scorpion arrived at the bank of a river he wanted to cross, but there was no bridge. He asked a frog that was sitting nearby if he would take him across the river on his back. The frog refused and said, "I will not, because you will sting me."

The scorpion replied, "It would be foolish for me to sting you because then we would both drown."

The frog saw the logic in the scorpion's words, and agreed to carry the the scorpion across. But when they were halfway across the river the scorpion stung the frog. The stunned frog asked, "Why did you sting me? Now we will both die!"

The scorpion replied, "Because I'm a scorpion... and that's what scorpions do."

Posted by: Josh at July 15, 2006 01:21 PM

Michael T.,

Your 1:10pm comment really should be in the post body - or better yet, its own post. It addresses the situation much more clearly than Lebanon.Profile's post.

Posted by: Asher Abrams - Dreams Into Lightning at July 15, 2006 01:50 PM

I work with a Lebanese man with most of his family still in Beirut who moved to the U.S. in the 90's. From reading blogs, I was under the impression that HA was unpopular with the Lebanese people. When I approached this man with this attitude, he was completely surprised. He explained how much HA had done for Lebanon and how unfair it was that they were considered a terrorist organization and as an American, it was illegal for him to send money to him. In his opinion, HA was widely supported and even loved in Lebanon.

Now, this was not the attitude I had hoped to find - I like this man and from what I've read HA is not helping Lebanon. But hearing this from a very peaceful and tolerant man has led me to doubt statements about the Lebanese people wanting HA out of their country - and certainly not 'monolithically'. I wish that were true, but I don't believe it.

Posted by: alice at July 15, 2006 01:51 PM

i'm not going to bother addressing every point, because there are too many, and i'm too tired.

but one thing--

xmath writes: The question is also raised why Israel would bomb ports, etc. So that Israel's enemies cannot get armed by outsiders, cannot escape, and cannot transport prisoners to e.g. Iran?

this would be valid were it not for one fact: israel had already blockaded the ports. I can see the beirut port from my apartment, and there are a number of large warships standing guard around it. no fewer than five smaller vessels run up and down the coast patrolling at all times. so what, exactly, was going to get out of there? anyone foolish enough to try to move from lebanon by sea right now would certainly choose to launch from ANYWHERE other than one of the major ports. bombing them did nothing to secure them further-- they were already secure.

moreover, in the case of beirut at least, the strikes were at non-strategic targets. i'm very, very glad the israelis didn't just demolish the whole thing (particularly since my apartment would get caught in a blast of that size), but this is what they hit: a silo, which apparently stores flour or grain (depending on sources), and one docked boat.

i'll follow this up in a minute, but two VERY large blasts have just shaken my apartment. strongest yet or closest to my apt, not sure which.

can hear more planes overhead, too. shit.

Posted by: carine at July 15, 2006 02:40 PM


Hard choices are never easy.

If the Lebanese really want Hezbollah out of their country, here's their chance. All their army has to do is side with Israel and squeeze from the north. Yes, I realize that this will win them the enmity of the "Arab street," but the Arab street has been dragging down the Arab world for far too long.

I said it wasn't an easy choice, because it isn't.

Posted by: Pete (Alois) at July 15, 2006 02:41 PM

I agree with Alice. Also, it seems to me, that when push comes to shove, the Lebanese folks, overall, were hoping that by ignoring a cancer it would just go away. I've not read on any Lebanese blog, a factual post listing all the genuine steps that were being taken in the last, oh let's say 3 months, by the Lebanese people & their government to get rid of HA. That might've been helpful instead of slowly falling into "blame the Joooos" mode again, sigh.

And while Lebanese officials were stating that they knew nothing about HA'a actions, and they were against them, we find out from "Jpost" that yesterday the Lebanese Army was firing on Israeli AIRCRAFT. The Lebanese Army can't do anything against HA, but they can fire on Israel? What are we supposed to believe?

I'm neither Arab nor Israeli, and I have no agenda or axe to grind here. I come to these blogs to learn, and honestly, so far, the Israelis seem to have common sense and facts on their side.

One other thing, since Israelis and Lebanese are being forced out of their homes by war, anything that they may be posting should be read with an eye of compassion. They're in a war zone. They may not be thinking clearly at the moment while they panic over missing loved ones, a place to stay, food and water, etc. Michael, we are compassionate, and our hearts go out to all involved, but when all is said and done, truth still has to be truth.

Posted by: Renée C. at July 15, 2006 02:45 PM

Sucks that LP has to flee his country.

Posted by: Mike at July 15, 2006 02:45 PM

The thing is very simple. War is hell. But it is very important to blame the appropriate parties. Those parties are Iran, Syria and their Hezbollah stooges. In the short term it brings pain, although Israel does its best to minimize non-combatant casualties unlike the enemy. But if Israel succeeds in emasculating Hezbollah and humiliating Syria and/or Iran, all Lebanese (except the Hezbollah supporters) will be better off. From Israel's standpoint, they are not about to let a threat continue to placate Lebanese democrats who are willing to live with an armed terrorist militia so long as that militia attacks its neighbor the the South and not them. That's just silly.

Posted by: Doug at July 15, 2006 02:52 PM

One of the unfortunate things for Lebanon about the Concordat with Hizbullah is that they don't get to help pick IDG targets. There's no question that not all of the targets are going to be well-chosen; the Lebanese could have -- and still should -- be picking Hizbullah targets themselves.

Peres put it well today -- something to the effect of what matters is not what the Lebanese say, but what they do. It's not the Arab League that they have to persuade -- the Arab League doesn't give a shit about them -- or the UN, or even the US, but Israel.

My guess is that promises won't do it. Actions -- even if those actions can't be much right now -- may be.

Firing on IAF aircraft isn't likely to be persuasive; firing on Hizbullah just might be.

Give the soldiers back, attack Hizbullah, and then ask for ceasefire.

Posted by: Joel Rosenberg at July 15, 2006 03:06 PM

Mr. Totten said:

“What should Israel have done instead? They should have treated Hezbollahland as a country, which it basically is, and attacked it. They should have treated Lebanon as a separate country, which it basically is, and left it alone.”

As I understand it, Hezbollahland’s missiles are coming in through Lebanon’s sea ports and airport, being transported on Lebanon’s roads, and being stored in Lebanon’s warehouses. In addition, the headquarters of Hezbollahland’s military is in Lebanon (in Beirut). Given this, how is Israel to prevent re-supply and stop the rocket attacks without attacking certain areas of Lebanon?

If Israel is not allowed to attack any neighborhood or area of Lebanon that is “monolithically anti-Hezbollahland”, won’t that make it easy for Hezbollahland to escape Israeli attack?

Is a nation’s right to self-defense negated if those who attack it choose to retreat to another country’s territory? If so, there is no defense against terrorism and no hope of prevailing against it.

Posted by: Michael Smith at July 15, 2006 03:11 PM

we don't know what the explosions are yet but they're definitely bad.

just to pop in again. michael smith, please refer to my last comment.

we get that. but the airport was neutralized when the runways were bombed, the ports when they were blockaded. striking the same places over and over serves nothing. either way, they'll be rebuilt in the end, so you can't even argue that this is being done to protect once israel retreats.

we don't like any of the violence, but the big problem with it is that sooooo much of it is gratuitous. maybe israelis don't give a shit right now, but as michael says and LP perhaps shows, they're losing friends.

if the attacks were precise and just, we'd be less devastated. but they are just cruel.

and yes, as many others urge-- before you all jump down LP's throat, imagine how you'd feel if your home and country, your whole heart, was under attack, and being ripped apart...

Posted by: carine at July 15, 2006 03:26 PM

Oh, please. Why on earth should the IDF not use both belt -and suspenders -- the blockade and shutting down the port? If the Lebanese government were to get its way, the blockade would be shut down as part of the hudna; if you were an Israeli, wouldn't you want the importation of rockets to be slowed down just a bit more?

These "friends" of Israel who shook hands, broke bread, and shared political power with the Hizzbollards, and occasionally raised a weak voice in whispered protest -- just how valuable do you think Israel ought to think that you are?

Posted by: Joel Rosenberg at July 15, 2006 03:49 PM

Just read through this again. Somebody wrote "discretion is the better part of valor" in defense of the post. A quote from a cowardly character in a play. Basically you can say that poster believes it's better to suffer through life than die. Evidently, sir, you've got nothing worth fighting and dying for.

Carine says, "if the attacks were precise and just, we'd be less devastated. but they are just cruel."

Son, LGB's are not scalpels, they are metal tubes filled with high explosives. What the IDF is doing right now is basic military 101. They are attempting to cut off Hezbollah, and destroy useful HQ targets now. Denying Hezbollah the means to effectively (note that word) move supplies and people. Once they've cut them off and reduced numbers, then they will move in to kill them. And from a military history perspective they are being amazingly precise about it. You apparently expect them to achieve a level of precision that simply does not exist.

And quite frankly, from a guy who's studied the Six Day War, Yom Kippur, etc., if the Israelies wanted to be cruel, if they wanted to really really hurt all Lebanese, well, they could. Easily. If the IDF wanted to be cruel, Lebanon would already be pilled high with corpses. I'm frankly amazed at the restraint. Last count that I heard is 85 civilians dead, 200 wounded. Be happy the IDF cares about civilian casualties, or there would be lots of 0's after that 5.

Posted by: Spade at July 15, 2006 03:53 PM

It is not fair that the Lebanese who do not support Hizbulla to suffer in this war, and it is not fair to expect them to risk civil war if they are too weak.

It is not fair for Israelis to suffer attacks and kidnapping by the Hizbulla because the Lebanese are too weak.

It is not fair to attack the people of Syria, who did not attack Israel and don't really have a choice since they live under a dictator.

It is not fair that the people of Syria live under a dictator, but what can be done?

It is not fair that innocent Palestinians suffer from this war. They are too weak to do anything about the Hamas.

It is not fair that the Israelis be struck by Palestinian terrorism.

It is not fair that Iraq was attacked by america.

It is not fair that Iraq lived under Saddam.

It is not fair, it is not fair, it is not fair.

Maybe it's time to look beyond fair?

Posted by: Micha at July 15, 2006 03:56 PM

umm... i'm a GIRL. just fyi. carine isn't a very common male name as far as i know... plus my blog address is an ok clue...

Posted by: carine at July 15, 2006 04:00 PM

as must be obvious at this point, i couldn't be more strongly opposed to the israeli bombardment of my country.

however, spade: i didn't say we would be less angry if the attacks were just and precise... i said less devastated.

israel is killing a LOT of civilians, destroying landmarks, causing unnecessary billions of damage and losses (which, fyi european taxpayers, you'll probably end up footing the bill for in the end).

no amount of rationalization is going to soften that pain, and i'd hope most of you-- regardless of geography or political stripes-- would understand this.

don't ask us to embrace or condone israeli actions right now. it's absurd, and slightly dehumanizing to assume we'd even be capable of it while our own country and people are being attacked.

Posted by: carine at July 15, 2006 04:11 PM

Carine, and other Lebanese: Here's why it's happening:

The feeling within the IDF General Staff is that the Lebanese government will eventually succumb and deploy its army in the south, but that this decision will be made at the political level, under international pressure.

Dammit! Just go and do it already!

Posted by: Yafawi at July 15, 2006 04:16 PM


Blockade is fine. But it must be maintained on an ongoing basis, which is costly. Bombing a port can cripple the port for medium-term, which makes the blockade easier, less susceptible to leakage, and potentially frees up personnel/materiel used in the blockade to move elsewhere (if needed). Thus, it has strategic value. The claim was that there was no possible strategic value. This claim is false.

Your position is like saying that if one has lots of planes circling the sky overhead, there's no strategic value in bombing someone's airport. Of course to reach such a conclusion one must assume that keeping those planes in the sky indefinitely is cost-free. Get real. Of course there is strategic value in bombing a freaking port. That you or someone thinks it 'excessive' doesn't change that. That you observe a blockade doesn't change that. Israel has to make her own strategic calculations here and evidently they've decided that simply counting on an ongoing open-ended commitment to maintaining a blockade for the (unknown) extent of the conflict, does not suit their current strategic needs.

The readiness with which some people are willing to believe that Israel (alone among countries?) is in the habit of choosing and bombing targets for no strategic value whatsoever, is quite interesting.

Posted by: xmath at July 15, 2006 04:19 PM

Michael Totten,

I appreciate your blog a lot, as well as the discussions. Most of your comments are very common-sensical. I do think that part of what you wrote would benefit from more discussion.

I originally had the same thought as you:

"What should Israel have done instead? They should have treated Hezbollahland as a country, which it basically is, and attacked it. They should have treated Lebanon as a separate country, which it basically is, and left it alone."

I think that this is what they have done in the main. Here me out on this: I'm willing to be corrected where I'm wrong.

The difficulty here, as I see it, is that Hezbollahland includes places which are at least partially ``shared'' with Lebanon. In particular, transportation nodes (airports, ports, roads) are not easily divisible into "Hezbollah" and "Lebanese", and Hezbollah (if I understand correctly) has facilities in "unoccupied Lebanon", including Beirut, and that is where at least a moderate number of the Hezbollah leadership hang out.

"They should not have bombed Central Beirut, which was monolithically anti-Hezbollah. They should not have bombed my old neighborhood, which was monolithically anti-Hezbollah. They should not have bombed the Maronite city of Jounieh, which was not merely anti-Hezbollah but also pro-Israel."

Again, I may be wrong, but I would wager that Israel bombed specific targets in Central Beirut and Jounieh, rather than targeting neighborhoods or cities in general. (From a professional military point of view, bombing non-military targets is usually considered wasteful.)

"Israel thinks everyone hates them, and it's not true. But they will make it so if they do not pay more attention to the internal characteristics of neighboring countries. "The Arabs" do not exist as a bloc except in the feverish dreams of the Nasserists and the Baath."

Now that needs to be stated and restated, until it becomes part of the common culture of the Israeli Defense Forces.

As I write this, I read from Doha at LebaneseBloggers that the Lebanese Prime Minister Seniora:
"He reiterated that the Lebanese state needs to be strong, and is required to protect its citizens and establishments. Therefore, he declared that all parties need to cease fire, and negotiations need to start in cooperation with the international community. Second, the Lebanese Army needs to head out to the South in close cooperation with the UN. Third, a call to all friends of Lebanon to help Lebanon, a country declared as devestated, in every single way, through diplomacy, aid and so far."

I think that his ``second'' point shows some promise and at least holds some promise. This may be the first time that the Lebanese government has actually admitted its own failure in this situation.

Additionally, at least one Israeli official, Justice Minister Haim Ramon, has stated Israel's conditions for a ceasfire: ``Hezbollah must redeploy north of the Litani River. It must surrender its rocket arsenal to the Lebanese army, which must take up positions along the border with Israel.'' These are not unreasonable demands from Israel, and should be supported by other nations.

Posted by: AlbuquerqueAmerican at July 15, 2006 04:29 PM

Wow! The amount of violence brewing inside of me against all of you commenters is enough to...

I'm having trouble not using profanity.

I guess we in Lebanon should throw away everything that the United States has taught us. I was taught in school about the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. I was taught to stand up to oppression and not use evil against my opponent.

I was taught to empathize with those in pain.

I was taught to do things, especially when a people had been particularly brutalized.

My friends and I have braved violence. We were beaten with batons and sprayed with water cannons by the pro-Syrian Lebanese government. We watched as our television stations were closed, all the while Hezbollah's remained opened.

Did Israel help us then? Did the United States or France?

We walked over Lebanese Army barbed wire to protest against the government and the Syrian regime.

We watched as our leaders, spokespeople, AND FRIENDS were assassinated on a monthly basis. Our neighborhoods were bombed. Our elected leaders were forced to live outside of the country in fear for their lives.

We kept pushing.

We pushed against Hezbollah to disarm the entire time. We watched as big countries with big arms and big international roles CHICKENED OUT (yeah, that's you America) about confronting Syria. We continued screaming against the terrorist regime, but no one would listen. Walid Jumblatt argued for the overthrow of Syria IN WASHINGTON!!! He gave a speech calling for Hezbollah to disarm and questioning the validity of one of Hezbollah's main issues: Lebanese sovereignty over the Shebaa Farms.

We had a National Dialogue in which we were trying to prevent war by making all parties amenable to change. This was after Hezbollah froze the government and kept the country in political limbo for months.

Is this not enough for you? What the hell more were we supposed to do? Honestly, what more?

It was only in the last few months that we were able to begin discussing the debates. The last assassination occurred on 12 Dec., 2005. After that the political leadership returned to Lebanon. But Hezbollah threw the government into crisis immediately thereafter. So, we've really had since May to seriously confront the issue.

Israel knew this and knows this. Condoleeza Rice admitted that Lebanon needed time to disarm Hezbollah. She knew that we had to solve this problem and that there was little any other country could do, which includes the US, France, the UN, and ISRAEL! They all knew that Syria and Iran were the targets, which is why they wrote UN Resolutions to these ends.

The entire time this was happening, we were reaching out through the internet to Israelis creating a human bond. Perpetual Refugee actually went to Israel and wrote quite passionately about his personal experiences there.

The whole time, we were being attacked by Hezbollah members and anti-semites. I argued with people on a daily basis. I argued with government officials. I argued with the Army. I argued with Islamists. But I guess that's not good enough. If the United States, France, and the UN Security Council is too afraid to do it, I'm supposed to.

So, Israel is doing it for us, eh? I thought that at first. I thought Israel was going to help prove that they would not abide with Hezbollah's weapons and wouldn't let Hezbollah continue spreading the stupid myth that they can protect Lebanon. I thought this even after they bombed the airport. Okay, it's a major symbol. I don't like it getting bombed, but I get it.

But the devastation they have wreaked on us is truly horrendous. The US did not do this to the Iraqis. The US didn't do this to al Qaeda, for crying out loud. Want to challenge me on this? Huh, you pale, pukish punks who've never done a damn thing in your lives for your armies and constitutions and who got everything handed to you; you punks sitting in your Pajamas (yeah, you there sitting in your Beverly Hills mansions writing movie scripts and worrying about the traffic); you who call liberals in the Middle East whiny for standing up for what we believe in at all times, including when it doesn't sound good to the Israelis and those whose lives are so pathetic they live vicariously through newspaper reports about the IDF and get their exercise for the day during when their adrenaline goes through the roof watching Bill O'Reilly scream at a child. Yeah, all you who want to challenge me, know that I've been to Iraq on multiple occassions. Friends have served and died there. The same goes for Afghanistan, where a good European friend is currently coordinating NATOs operations.

I've seen war in many places. I've studied when it is just and when it isn't. I take these things very, very seriously. This is not just.

I shouldn't even be telling you this. I shouldn't deign to your level of stupidity and ignorance. You people think you're well informed if you can name the leader of Hezbollah. You probably couldn't name the second in command if it would save your life. You probably can't even name the commanders serving YOU in Iraq. I know for a fact I know way more commanders, officers, and men on the ground in Afghanistan than any of you. You don't know war. I'm listening to bombs right now, as I write this. And by the way, my neighborhood was bombed earlier and I live on the top of my building. I shouldn't even be writing this because my bags aren't completely packed, my power is going in and out, my internet gives out every so often, and I can't make any phone calls. But I'm sure I'm just whining and that I couldn't possibly know how wonderful it is that Israel is liberating the world from terror.

Why debate someone who doesn't even know the facts? Well, because I believe in democracy. All of you vote, whether you deserve to or not, whether you've fought to or not. Just to vote, we braved assassination. Just to speak freely we braved more assassinations. Just to gather in large crowds we braved beating and water cannons. Just to live in our houses, we braved bombs and Hezbollah patsies rampaging through our streets hitting old men with wooden sticks. You ever do that?

And you expect me to fight Hezbollah, when I've already done all of this? You expect me to solve a problem that I didn't create immediately, even though I was doing a decent job of going about doing so with significantly less power. The US and France shied away, but I kept going. I tried to humanize the Israelis to my countrymen and stop anti-semitism.

Hezbollah learned from the United States. Ask Victor Davis Hansen or Mark Steyn. They'll tell you that the US should have never backed down when proto-Hezbollah destroyed the US Embassy. The US shouldn't have backed down after the Marine Corps barracks were destroyed. I agree with them. You shouldn't have. We wouldn't have all the problems with them today if they hadn't learned from you that their system works. They couldn't do any of this if you weren't bending over backwards to appease the Syrians and cuddle with the Iranians.

And you, of all people talking me to fight terror, expect Israel, tiny Israel, to fight Syria and Iran for you? I shouldn't be surprised you expect me to do the same, except to an even greater extent. Then, as I'm doing it, you poke fun at me, call me an Islamic fascist (which I'm pretty far from), say that I apologize for terror (even though it is my friends in New York, DC, London, Moscow, Beirut, Erbil, Baghdad, Jounieh, Naccache, and Beirut - some of which you couldn't point to on a map - have all suffered directly from terror), and make my life miserable as I'm trying to evacuate a country.

You people are disgusting and completely ignorant. Sure, I'll whine. But let's see what you would be doing if you were seeing what I'm seeing from my balcony as I write this, if you were feeling the vibrations, if you were escorting refugees to safehavens. I read your comments to Michael before I took him down to Hezbollah areas, "Don't go! They'll kill you and chop your head off. Democracy isn't worth you going there."

And you tell me to fight for democracy...

Posted by: lebanon.profile at July 15, 2006 04:37 PM

Red Alert: Getting Ready
We are now in the period preceding major conventional operations. Israel is in the process of sealing the Lebanese coast. They have disrupted Lebanese telecommunications, although they have not completely collapsed the structure. Israeli aircraft are attacking Hezbollah's infrastructure and road system. In the meantime, Hezbollah, aware it is going to be hit hard, is in a use-it or-lose-it scenario, firing what projectiles it can into Israel.

The Israeli strategy appears to be designed to do two things. First, the Israelis are trying to prevent any supplies from entering Lebanon, including reinforcements. That is why they are attacking all coastal maritime facilities. Second, they are degrading the roads in Lebanon. That will keep reinforcements from reaching Hezbollah fighters engaged in the south. As important, it will prevent the withdrawal and redeployment of heavy equipment deployed by Hezbollah in the south, particularly their rockets, missiles and launchers. The Israelis are preparing the battlefield to prevent a Hezbollah retreat or maneuver.

Hezbollah's strategy has been imposed on it. It seems committed to standing and fighting. The rate of fire they are maintaining into Israel is clearly based on an expectation that Israel will be attacking. The rocketry guarantees the Israelis will attack. Hezbollah has been reported to have anti-tank and anti-air weapons. The Israelis will use airmobile tactics to surround and isolate Hezbollah concentrations, but in the end, they will have to go in, engage and defeat Hezbollah tactically. Hezbollah obviously knows this, but there is no sign of disintegration on its part. At the very least, Hezbollah is projecting an appetite for combat. Sources in Beirut, who have been reliable to this point, say Hezbollah has weapons that have not yet been seen, such as anti-aircraft missiles, and that these will be used shortly. Whatever the truth of this, Hezbollah does not seem to think its situation is hopeless.

The uncertain question is Syria. No matter how effectively Israel seals the Lebanese coast, so long as the Syrian frontier is open, Hezbollah might get supplies from there, and might be able to retreat there. So far, there has been only one reported airstrike on a Syrian target. Both Israel and Syria were quick to deny this.

What is interesting is that it was the Syrians who insisted very publicly that no such attack took place. The Syrians are clearly trying to avoid a situation in which they are locked into a confrontation with Israel. Israel might well think this is the time to have it out with Syria as well, but Syria is trying very hard not to give Israel casus belli. In addition, Syria is facilitating the movement of Westerners out of Lebanon, allowing them free transit. They are trying to signal that they are being cooperative and nonaggressive.

The problem is this: While Syria does not want to get hit and will not make overt moves, so long as the Syrians cannot guarantee supplies will not reach Hezbollah or that Hezbollah won't be given sanctuary in Syria, Israel cannot complete its mission of shattering Hezbollah and withdrawing. They could be drawn into an Iraq-like situation that they absolutely don't want. Israel is torn. On the one hand, it wants to crush Hezbollah, and that requires total isolation. On the other hand, it does not want the Syrian regime to fall. What comes after would be much worse from Israel's point of view.

This is the inherent problem built into Israel's strategy, and what gives Hezbollah some hope. If Israel does not attack Syria, Hezbollah could well survive Israel's attack by moving across the border. No matter how many roads are destroyed, Israel won't be able to prevent major Hezbollah formations moving across the border. If they do attack Syria and crush al Assad's government, Hezbollah could come out of this stronger than ever.

Judging from the airstrikes in the past 24 hours, it would appear Israel is trying to solve the problem tactically, by degrading Lebanese transport facilities. That could increase the effectiveness of the strategy, but in the end cannot be sufficient. We continue to think Israel will choose not to attack Syria directly and therefore, while the invasion will buy time, it will not solve the problem. Hezbollah certainly expects to be badly hurt, but it does not seem to expect to be completely annihilated. We are guessing, but our guess is that they are reading Israel's views on Syria and are betting that, in the long run, they will come out stronger. Of course, Israel knows this and therefore may have a different plan for Syria. At any rate, this is the great unknown in this campaign.

The other unknown is the withdrawal of Western nationals from Lebanon. We have received very reliable reports from sources in Lebanon who assure us Hezbollah does not intend to renew hostage taking, which is deemed an old and nonproductive strategy. These same sources have reported splits in Hezbollah over how aggressive it should be. We believe Hezbollah has no current plans for hostage taking. We are not convinced, however, that in the course of the battle it will not change its mind, or that with weakened central control elements, elements of Hezbollah will take hostages as a bargaining chip. Regardless of what Hezbollah is saying now, hostage taking must be taken seriously as a possibility.

The U.S. Embassy in Beirut is now saying plans are being developed in concert with the U.S. Defense Department for extracting U.S. nationals from Lebanon. A convoy scheduled to travel from the American University of Beirut to Amman, Jordan, via Syria, was cancelled at the last moment, with participants being told that the embassy has other plans.

There are said to be 25,000 U.S. citizens in Lebanon, but many of these are Lebanese-American dual nationals who actually live in Lebanon as Lebanese. These are less visible, less at risk and have greater resources for survival. The most at-risk Americans are those who hold only U.S. papers and are clearly American, such as employees of American companies, students studying at Lebanese universities and tourists. There is no clear count of these high-risk nationals, nor is there a count on high-risk nationals from other non-Islamic countries. There are thousands, however, and getting them out will be difficult.

The U.S. Embassy is considering flying them to Cyprus. That would mean an air bridge from Beirut International Airport, where a single runway has been opened, to Cyprus, a short flight away. The United States will not do this while Beirut is under attack, so it will ask the Israelis to create a safe zone and air corridor during the evacuation. But the threat on the ground is real, and we suspect the United States will send troops in to secure the perimeter and surrounding areas against shoulder-launched missiles. They will also keep the precise timing secret, although thousands of people in Lebanon -- the evacuees -- will know it is coming.

There was a Marine Expeditionary Force on maneuvers in the Red Sea a few days ago. We do not know where they are now, but they had 2,200 marines on board -- the right number to secure extraction. We suspect aircraft will be chartered from airlines in the region and that some U.S. Air Force and allied aircraft might also be used. Doubtless, the United States is busy organizing it. Given that the United States cancelled several ad hoc withdrawals, it must be highly confident it has the process nailed; we would expect this operation to get going sometime Sunday. Assuming aircraft that can carry any average of 200 people (purely arbitrary), 50-100 flights could get everyone out. Assuming that everyone can be notified and can get to Beirut International Airport. That won't happen. The remainder who are at risk will probably be advised to move into Christian areas east and northeast of Beirut and to keep their heads down for the duration. It is also possible that discussion of Cyprus notwithstanding, the path will be through Syria, but we doubt that.

In the meantime, that Israel has not sent major ground units into Lebanon yet (lots of small units are operating there) but is taking rocket attacks and hunkering down indicates it does not plan to act piecemeal. If we were to guess, the main thrust would likely begin late Sunday night or Monday morning. They will be ready by then. Of course we are not privy to Israeli operations, so it could be delayed 24-48 hours to give forces a chance to gear up. But given the Hezbollah bombardment, the Israelis are under pressure to move sooner rather than later.

We are in a relatively quiet spell (emphasis on quiet). Both sides have made their strategic decisions. Both know how the war will be fought. Hezbollah thinks it can give as good as it will get for a while, and will ultimately be able to regroup for a guerrilla war against the Israelis. Israel thinks it can immobilize and crush Hezbollah quickly and decisively and will be able to withdraw. Both sides know Syria is the wild card, and neither is quite sure how it will play its hand. One side is wrong in its expectations about the outcome. That's the nature of war.

Send questions or comments on this article to analysis@stratfor.com.

Posted by: Sully at July 15, 2006 04:40 PM

You expect Israel to overlook your inability to govern your own country? Residents of your country attacked Israel. What in hell do you expect, Useless Nations negotions?

Posted by: Lee McDaniel at July 15, 2006 04:41 PM

If only Hesbolland feels the heat then this allows the rest of Lebanon to wipe it's hands of the matter and not take responsibility for their shit. And yes, Hesbollah is Lebanon's responsiblity, not Israel's. I'm sure the gucci revolutionaries would like to sip coffee and go clubbing with the pretty girls in Gemmayzeh 24/7 now that the Syrians are gone, while ignoring that Israel is expending it's blood and treasure solving your problems in the south, but you're not going to get off that easy. Israel will not allow you to wipe your hands of the matter. So solve the problem already you whiny biatches, and stop blaming Israel.

Posted by: Carlos at July 15, 2006 04:53 PM

LP, you sound angry. GOOD! But my friend, at this time, PLEASE use that ANGER for a better purpose, and get yourself to a SAFE PLACE. There will always be room for debate and understand, and yes, even forgiveness later on. BUT RIGHT NOW...GET TO A SAFE LOCATION. These various countries aren't removing their citizens for the fun of it as you know. And the governments we have, for better and for worse, always know more than they're able or willing to share with the common guy. LP, I like you, so PLEASE!!!!! GET TO A SAFE LOCATION.

Posted by: Renée C. at July 15, 2006 05:19 PM

So Lebanon Profile is pissed off.

Better that you are pissed off and hate Israelis than a bunch of dead Israelis.

Talking to abunch of people and rising up to get your freedom are two different avenues. You chose the pen. The Islamic terrorists do not recognize your weapon and they do not care.

The culture only recognizes Honor. Honor above truth and above all things. Beat them into submission, and you will ahve your country.

Your little swipe at Jewish Hollywood didn't go unnoticed, either.

As I said before, the prism of 'blame the jew' will taint your judgement forever, regardless of what you say you did on this board and on your blog.

Posted by: GA at July 15, 2006 05:19 PM

By the way, Lebanon Profile:

I pray for your safety.

Posted by: GA at July 15, 2006 05:20 PM

ugh. why am i even bothering? but nonetheless:

xmath: ahhhh! this would be sooo much easier if you'd READ what i wrote instead of just scanning it.

i NEVER said the port was not a strategic target. i said the bits of it that got hit weren't, and were thus gratuitous.

for your convenience, i've copied and pasted the relevant section of my comment:

[by "in the case of beirut," i meant the beirut port vs. tripoli and jounieh of course (as is clear from the context of the full comment)]

moreover, in the case of beirut at least, the strikes were at non-strategic targets. i'm very, very glad the israelis didn't just demolish the whole thing (particularly since my apartment would get caught in a blast of that size), but this is what they hit: a silo, which apparently stores flour or grain (depending on sources), and one docked boat.

so tell me, how do these strikes make israel a more secure place???

on to other things:
GA: in one breath you make a pretty bigoted generalization about lebanese culture ("The culture only recognizes Honor. Honor above truth and above all things." -- really, really not even worth responding to. sigh.), and in the next accuse LP of being anti-semitic because he made a passing reference to beverly hills?!? come ON. i won't bother citing anecdotal evidence to refute the slander against LP, because again, it hardly merits a response. but you're way, way off base. shame on you.

LP probably mentions beverly hills because he has been getting commenters from there on his blog lately. or to remind you all that he knows the states very well, and is in fact both lebanese AND a fellow american. or just because it was the first place that came to mind. i'd leave it for him to explain, but the bombings continue in beirut and who knows if he has power or internet, or whether he will again before he has to flee his home...

good god, people.

Posted by: carine at July 15, 2006 06:01 PM

Sorry for your predicament pal, but your condemnation of Israel rings a little hollow. The Jews don't a have choice to sit around and ponder their fate while surrounded by the slime of humanity. Don't blame them for your weakness.

Posted by: andrew at July 15, 2006 06:07 PM

LP, I totally understand your reaction (in the comments here at 4:37 PM). But I pray you will try to remember, thru it all, that some of us have been saying exactly the same things. Even in a stream of comments where far, far too many people are sounding like total idiots, there are still a few of us who are trying to rub two brain cells together and actually consider the reality of life in Lebanon these past years.

God bless you and keep you and yours safe. And we pray that someday (unlikely as it seems at the moment) this nightmare will end for you.

Posted by: wj at July 15, 2006 06:31 PM


You really said a mouthful. You are an admirable guy. Stay safe, if it's at all possible.

Posted by: John-Paul Pagano at July 15, 2006 06:49 PM

Fight for your country and give your life for it if that is what it takes (or whine and go to Syria and don't solve your problem). Don't expect me (U.S) or any other country to do what you choose not to do.

If you and your fellow Lebs don't have the guts to take control of your country than I do NOT care what happens to you. Your country, your problem, and if it becomes our problem I would be quite in favor of helping all Islamic extremists go to the afterlife. Same goes for Palestine and their problem; they kept Arafat in power and then vote for Hamas and I'm supposed to care? Not likely.

I'm sure all the prayers that other posters mention will solve the problem.


Posted by: snyderman at July 15, 2006 07:08 PM

Michael and Lebanon Profile:
Very moving and effective arguments. But again, if you were P.M. Olmert, responsible for the safety of your nation and very conscious of the precedent set by anything less than a full demonstration of strength and confidence, how do you act when almost 1/4 of your population is sleeping in bomb shelters? Lebanon.Profile can escape to Syria. Israelis do not have that option - they have no other country as their expression goes (ain lanu eretz acher). The Israeli government cannot place the sentiments of Lebanon's sophisticated intelligentsia - whose empathy for Israel, by the way, has never been anything more than abstract - over the risk of having more than 1,000,000 Israelis become refugees because the the northern 40 miles of Israel become a no-man's land. Also be honest, Nasrallah and his cohorts operate out of Beirut and their tentacles are spread throughout Lebanon, particularly the Bekaa. Considering the corruption of Lebanese society, it wouldn't be surprising if Hezbollah's interests are more diffusely spread than even Lebanese civilians suspect.
There is no way to conduct a "surgical strike" on just the southern 10 mile band of Lebanon and accomplish anything effective. Michael expects Israel to repeat the occupation game of 1982 through 2000? Or you expect Israel to blow up a couple of dozen missile launchers and positions near Beaufort while Hez's strength disappears among the civilian population and then regroups after Israel leaves in the wake of the inevitable UN denunciation?
Your real anger should be directed as this megalomaniac, Nasrallah - with his giant posters, his personality cult and his diva like pronouncements. His out-sized, warped personality and charisma, his Saladdin complex, and delusions of grandeur have brought us to this point. Elminating the leadership of Hezbollah and destroying their armories goes a long way to removing Syrian and Iranian influence from Lebanon.

Posted by: DRW at July 15, 2006 07:20 PM


I just read your last post and now I feel like a complete ASSHOLE. I deserve it. My comments about you were disgusting and completely ignorant, just like you said. My sincerest apologies. Stay safe. Lebanon needs people like you.

Posted by: Carlos at July 15, 2006 07:23 PM

"Firing on IAF aircraft isn't likely to be persuasive; firing on Hizbullah just might be."

That is an excellent point!

I admit that I don't know as much about Lebanon as Michael. It's not even close.

But I don't see how Lebanon was unable to fight Hizbullah.

That fighting Hizbullah would re-ignite the civil war is not a very good argument because a) Israel bombing Beirut is not much better and b) keeping one armed militia is not really the end of the civil war. Once Hizbullah felt safe enough they would have tried to take over the entire country for Iran. I assume Hizbullah know that they cannot really beat Israel. So what was their purpose in southern Lebanon?

The way I see it the Lebanese made a deal with the devil, so to speak: they got a temporary illusion of peace in exchange for Hizbullah becoming more powerful. Instead of the civil war, Lebanon got the Israelis. And if it is not the Israelis, it would be the Iranians later.

Israel sees that Lebanon didn't act against Hizbullah. Israel sees that Lebanon STILL doesn't act against Hizbullah. The argument that the Lebanese army is too weak to fight Hizbullah is not really cutting it since the Israeli army would now be on their side. And the argument that fighting Hizbullah would mean civil war seems a bit outdated now that a war is going on anyway.

In fact, Lebanon could have disarmed Hizbullah. Lebanon could have asked for help. They could have asked Israel. They could have asked Turkey. They could have asked the US, Britain, France. They could have asked Syria, officially. (Syria would have refused, of course, but that would have given Lebanon diplomatic cover to ask an "enemy" rather than an Arab "ally".)

Israel's only choice is to hit Hizbullah and hit them hard, where-ever they are.

Posted by: Andrew Brehm at July 15, 2006 07:24 PM

"And you, of all people talking me to fight terror, expect Israel, tiny Israel, to fight Syria and Iran for you? I shouldn't be surprised you expect me to do the same, except to an even greater extent."

I don't expect you to. Just don't go looking for sympathy when you don't. We're not always gonne be your saviors either. As I recall, we, and the French, have been there before. The Italians too. We've all got our dead to prove it.

And I don't recall anybody officially asking for help to remove Hezbollah either this time around. Anyway, "tiny tiny" Israel can handle it. They tend to punch well above their weight class.

Posted by: Spade at July 15, 2006 07:25 PM

LB - Know that many of us know that you are in hell right now. We really do empathize with you. You are truly a victim here. This entire situation really sucks. It would be far better if Syria and Iran were being punished right now instead of anti-Hizbullah Lebanese. One would hope that the Israelis appreciate your position. I met many Lebanese (former SLA) living in Israel on a trip there a few years back. Based on the intelligence reports I've read (from the comfort of my parents' home in Philadelphia) it appears as if the Israelis choice of targets are quite specific and intended to disrupt Hezbollah activity. You are indeed a victim caught in a war zone. I don't blame you for hating both combatants in the moment. If my life, and the lives of my friends and loved ones, were being put in danger, I'd be furious at both parties as well. Hopefully you'll have the opportunity at a later time for a more nuanced and objective analysis of the events you are living through. In the meantime, please take the earlier poster's advice and head for high ground. It appears this is going to be a very hot conflict with a lot of deaths on both sides. Perhaps you and your like minded colleagues can prepare for what you will do with the surviving members of Hizbullah.

Stay Safe.

Posted by: Sully at July 15, 2006 07:30 PM


Huh, you pale, pukish punks who've never done a damn thing in your lives for your armies and constitutions and who got everything handed to you; you punks sitting in your Pajamas (yeah, you there sitting in your Beverly Hills mansions writing movie scripts and worrying about the traffic); you who call liberals in the Middle East whiny for standing up for what we believe in at all times, including when it doesn't sound good to the Israelis and those whose lives are so pathetic they live vicariously through newspaper reports about the IDF and get their exercise for the day during when their adrenaline goes through the roof watching Bill O'Reilly scream at a child.

Well, this is a great rant , with enough truth in it to sting, Can't touch it. Maybe Roger L Simon (a pajamas media member and a Hollywood script writer) will get it on to the screen. You know, like the guy in Network.

But the devastation they have wreaked on us is truly horrendous. The US did not do this to the Iraqis. The US didn't do this to al Qaeda, for crying out loud.

Here I quibble: Just how much damage has been done? Relative to Gaza, Iraq, .. Chechnya ? Does anyone have an idea? First, we get told we are killing hundreds of thousands of Iraqi's, now we are told we were pikers?

I am reserving judgement until some cooler assessment of the choice of targets, casualties, and infrastucture shows up.

My positive contribution is this part of what I posted on the Becoming a Refugee thread .

... This is turning into a rant too, but I hope some Lebanese will hear me. I have really liked most Middle Easterners, especially Lebanese, that I have met. Most of this has been professionally, so I realize, I have probably been meeting the better half. What is pissing me off, though, is the behavior of the aggregate. You can’t keep crying for yourselves and really get my sympathy until you get a real grip on giving Israel the same human compassion you desire. You complain that Israel is a bully and too strong, but you and your neighbors made Israel that way with your long history of wars to destroy her. The hollow lie behind the ‘occupation’ line is that your wars of aggression and suicide attacks brought it on.

The positive thing to do now would be to use the current hot Israeli anger to rearrange the chessboard so that intransigent war makers like Hamas and Hezbollah are marginalized and at least disarmed of long range weapons. Screaming to the UN and the world to make Israel stop with no real plan to end the siege of Israel will only make thing worse in the long run.

This could be an opportunity, if only the Arab politicians could see beyond zero sum game rules. The Lebanese could ally with Israel against the haters. This could be a third way solution other than endless low level warfare or a cataclysmic war that really crushes the Arabs. That is what I am hoping for.

BTW I have not been calling for impossible actions on behalf of the Lebanese, but I can't accept the tit for tat paradigm they are using. I think you have to look at Israel's actions in the larger context. How long are they supposed to tolerate sniping attacks from Hamas and Hezbollah? Whether on not Lebanon in general is responsible or can be expected to curb Hezbollah, is moot. Like Clint Eastwood in Unforgiven, "Deserve's got nothing to do with it".

Posted by: jdwill at July 15, 2006 07:55 PM

My brain understands the need for Israel to destroy the terrorists at the gate.

My heart breaks for a beautiful country, and the innocent people in Lebanon who are suffering a fate NOT of their own making.

We have elections every couple of years, but other than the vote, how much control do we really have over our elected officials in between campaigns? Not much. So I do not blame the Lebanese people for Hezbollah.

Curse Syria and Iran. Pray for Lebanon and Israel. And keep in your hearts that good people don't always have the power to stop the evil in their midst.

Posted by: Kipper at July 15, 2006 07:56 PM


Sorry for "skimming". For sake of argument, I'll take your word for it re: what was hit at/near Beirut port. Here are some hypotheses:
1. Israel was aiming for something more strategic, & missed.
2. There was strategic value to locations hit that you, as a layperson hearing about it on local news - and the news people giving it to you - don't actually know about.
3. There wasn't any said strategic value, but Israel thought there was, due to intelligence it had, which, it turns out, was wrong.
4. Israel just hit those things for the heck of it, to be mean, and for the fun of it. They don't care about the strategic value of their targets whatsoever, you see. It's a waste of materiel and needless risk to any IDF soldiers involved, but hey it's fun to scare people and punish them. That's the way Israel is.

All I'm wondering is, out of all of these hypotheses, are you actually saying you think that #4 is the most plausible? Or is it possible that the true explanation is something like 1, 2, or 3?


I don't think anyone expects you to think that Israel's actions are "wonderful", and I think anyone in his right mind can understand your anger. The question is one of placing the blame where it belongs. Here is a list, no particular order, of possible actors to blame:

#1 Iran, #2 Syria, #3 Hezbollah, #4 Lebanese gov't.

Being that they are dropping bombs that are currently threaten your life, I don't think that anyone (if they give it a moment's thought) would begrudge you the right to place Israel somewhere on that list. (Heck, throw USA and all of Western Europe on it, for that matter. I'm sure there are valid geopolitical/historical arguments..)

What grates, however, is when Israel appears to be placed above #1-#4 above in the pecking order.

Posted by: xmath at July 15, 2006 08:04 PM

And you expect me to fight Hezbollah, when I've already done all of this?

Why, Yes!! Why? Becaaaause...You haven't done IT. The job ...is not... DONE. Obviously! Sorry, water canons and stick beatings during public demonstrations are not enough to win your freedom. So unpack your bags and...get off the roof of your building!!! Stay there in your beloved country, stay with your friends, family and fellow citizens, gather supplies and help each other thru this.

Your Hizbollah supporter "friends" (which I suggest you stay far, far away from for a while) have already pinned you as a coward. SHOW THEM THEY ARE WRONG! THAT, LP, is how you'll fight Hizbollah and win. With grit, determination, and courage. Now, hunker down!

And a final note, the United States 230 year old project in democracy is not complete, nor perfect and is ever evolving. All citizens practice and participate. Therefore, nothing is handed to anyone. I appreciate your envy. I'm as proud an American, as you are Lebanese.

Posted by: Natasha at July 15, 2006 08:46 PM

Lebanese seem to live in a world of denial, where it doesn't really matter if Hezbollah is acting as a state within a state and committing acts of war against Israel.

Posted by: Gary at July 15, 2006 10:17 PM
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