July 16, 2006

War Stories

By Callimachus:

Some quick looks around the Web:

Stratfor says the next likely scenario is an Insraeli invasion of Lebanon. And the likely collateral casualty will be Beirut.
1. Israel cannot tolerate an insurgency on its northern frontier; if there is one, it wants it farther north.

2. It cannot tolerate attacks on Haifa.

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

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

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

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

* * *

The Independent tells the story of a survivor of one of the Haifa rocket attacks:
Yossi Amergi, a 46-year-old mechanic lay in the emergency ward of Haifa's Rambam hospital, tubes sticking out of his arm, raw skin showing through a bandage on his right leg.

A few hours earlier eight of his workmates were killed by a rocket that burst through the corrugated iron roof of their railway maintenance depot, sending arc lights crashing, splintering carriage windows and covering the concrete platforms with gore.

... "I heard a boom," he recalled. "My ears were bursting; blood was spurting from my leg. I lost friends, Jews and Arabs who worked together."


* * *
Some blogs are pointing to a news release by Lebanese Foundation for Peace, an organization of Lebanese Christian exiles, praising the Israeli attacks.
"We urge you to hit [Hezbollah] hard and destroy their terror infrastructure. It is not [only] Israel who is fed up with this situation, but the majority of the silent Lebanese in Lebanon who are fed up with Hezbollah and are powerless to do anything out of fear of terror retaliation."
Be that as it may, the press release begins with a very unfortunate preposition:
For the millions of Christian Lebanese, driven out of our homeland, "Thank you Israel," is the sentiment echoing from around the world.
I suspect they meant "from," or "on behalf of."

* * *

An L.A. Times piece (subscription required) paints the picture in other Arab capitals:
In Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Jordan, governments with ties to the United States have guardedly denounced Hezbollah for the attack on Israel that triggered the fighting -- even as the people began tacking up posters of Hassan Nasrallah, the bearded, turbaned cleric who heads the Shiite militia group and has vowed to bring "war on every level" to Israel's door.

The disconnect between the broad range of public support for Hezbollah and the unease felt by many Arab leaders is one of many reasons that Arab governments have been largely unable to mount an effective diplomatic response to Israel's 5-day-old bombing campaign.

Over the weekend, for example, the Arab League, meeting in Cairo, was able to agree on little more than a statement that urged all parties to avoid actions that may "undermine peace and security," appealed to the United Nations for intervention and unsurprisingly declared the Middle East peace process "dead."

On one level, the divide pits Syria and Iran, long-time backers of Hezbollah, against Jordan, Egypt and Saudi Arabia, whose Sunni-led governments fear the rise of Islamic militancy and the influence of Iran.

"The resistance will win, and the Israeli aggression will fail," said Syrian Information Minister Mohsen Bilal in a statement Sunday, pledging a "firm and direct response" if Syria is hit. "The resistance has hit deep inside Israel, and the enemy did not expect this."

Iran, meanwhile, threatened that Israel would suffer "unimaginable losses" if it widened the conflict with an attack on Syria.

Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei on Sunday rallied behind Hezbollah, describing Israel as "an evil, cancerous tumor" in the midst of the Islamic world.

Posted by Callimachus at July 16, 2006 04:57 PM
Comments

That Stratfor article was one they sent out at the very beginning of the crisis.

Someone posted a more recent stratfor article in your comment section. It seems even more salient.

Posted by: Josh Scholar at July 16, 2006 05:17 PM

Michael,

You were one of the first people I thought of when this broke out. I'm glad you are safe and I look forward to the balance you bring to the issue.

Posted by: Jane at July 16, 2006 06:43 PM

Josh, I'm aware it's not the freshest article on the site, but it did make a prediction for what's next, so I thought it might be worth a fresh look.

Posted by: Callimachus at July 16, 2006 07:04 PM

Its a simple analysis. The Israeli public are VERY strong in their support of this mission to weaken Hezbollah. They have seen what happens when they withdraw and hand over land to Lebanon. Hezbollah moves in, installs thousands of rockets along the border, plant land mines and ultimately, kidnap Israelis.

The IDF will keep fighting until Hezbollah is unable to resume what they were doing. Either Lebanon steps in to at least disarm Hezbollah and maintain a secure and peaceful border, or Israel takes out all the rockets and annihilates Sheikh Nasrallah and other leaders.

This is going to hurt a lot of innocent Lebanese. Hezbollah have been receiving weapons from Iran and Syria, Israel needs to close the borders and stop the flow of weapons. They ultimately end up being fired at Israeli cities.

Posted by: Jono at July 16, 2006 07:36 PM

What do these pieces add up to:
1) JPost said that Israeli Infantry divisions were being mobilized northward.
2) All the other talk about ground invasion.
3) Rumors that the two Israelis are being held in the Iranian Embassy in Beirut.

Question: Will Israel enter Beirut and storm the Iranian Embassy?
No points for saying "They wouldn't dare." Yes they would.

Posted by: A Berman at July 16, 2006 08:20 PM

When Israel has finished cutting off all avenues of escape or resuplly for Hesbollah, then the IDF will move in its ground troops to finish them off.

Posted by: Carlos at July 16, 2006 09:06 PM

Michael,

Having clicked in from Hugh Hewitt, I missed the remarks that caused you to shut off your comments, but I'm sorry if you had to suffer dopey and hurtful comments. Meanwhile, though, in reading your clarification, I'm a little confused as to what you mean when you say the Israelis should haved attacked "Hezbollahland" and refrained from military operations in the rest of Lebanon. Surely there is no discrete territory of Hezbollahland, beyond which Hezbollah has no presence, leadership, infrastructure, etc.? You sound like you're saying that Hezbollah is confined to one easy-to-strike area, totally unconnected with the rest of Lebanon. Isn't Hezbollah clever (and loathsome) enought to operate out of multiple areas, so that to go after them inevitably means suffering for your friends and (though I was under the impression you lived in Portland, OR!) "your neighborhood"? I'd have thought that, if striking Hezbollah and Hezbollah alone were as easy as you imply, the Israelis would have done so.

For what it's worth, I have Lebanese (and Israeli) friends too.

Posted by: Michael W at July 16, 2006 09:34 PM

To BErtman

I don't think they would be in the Iranian Embassy. Even the Iranians are not that stupid at this point. Talk about a open invation for Israel to take care of that little nuclear problem for us.
I heard that and tracked this rumor to some Organization called Free Lebanon that is some sort of Govt in Exile from what I could tell. So I think its credibility is suspect

Posted by: jh at July 16, 2006 10:58 PM

One thing I'm noticing is that the media doesn't seem to be picking up stories of damage to Hezbollah. The IDF is claiming that they've destroyed 25% of Hezbollah's capabilities, but Hezbollah is so quiet that the Lebanese seem to be assuming, as one, that Hezbollah hasn't even been targeted.

Posted by: Josh Scholar at July 17, 2006 03:26 AM

Michael - Any chance your friend LP can get over to Cyprus with the upcoming US airlift?

Posted by: Brendan at July 17, 2006 04:29 AM

Here is a blog from some people in Haifa. Just letting you know.

Posted by: Yafawi at July 17, 2006 06:59 AM

Always facinating when supposed supporters of free speech "shut it down" when they don't like the content and have some cover of "morality".

It's the claim of censors since time immemorial.

Posted by: reader at July 17, 2006 07:01 AM

Perpetual Refugee claims to be cleansed by his renewed hatred of Israel. I left this comment, which seems to have gone unnoticed in the rabble:

I weep with you in the hour of your pain, even as the rockets, launched from your country, fall on my countrymen. Refugees from the north fill my house. We do as we feel we must. I only hope that when this is over, we can build a better future for all of us. I think we can. Remember the dream? Remember? We could drive from Beirut to Tel Aviv. From Tel Aviv to Beirut. If we will it, it is no dream.

Posted by: Yafawi at July 17, 2006 07:10 AM

Always facinating when supposed supporters of free speech "shut it down" when they don't like the content and have some cover of "morality".

This "reader" is not the same person as me, reader_iam (who blogs at Cal's place), just for the record!!!!

Signed,
reader_iam

Posted by: reader_iam at July 17, 2006 07:12 AM

Remember that Lebanese families used to motor down to the border with Israel to fling stones at Israeli soldiers, for fun.

Also that Hezbollah kidnapped IDF soldiers, and erected billboards of them or their dead bodies immediately opposite Israeli checkpoints.

So no, these people don't have some intrinsic right to a surgical-strike, pulled punches response from Israel when they go at it once too often.

Posted by: The Sanity Inspector at July 17, 2006 07:16 AM

Regarding the comments section getting shut-down on this site, remember that Freedom of the Press belongs to whomever owns the Press.

Posted by: Johnny Eck at July 17, 2006 07:48 AM

But hypocrisy is always there for the taker...

Posted by: reader at July 17, 2006 07:57 AM

Regarding the comments section getting shut-down on this site, remember that Freedom of the Press belongs to whomever owns the Press.

This isn't The Press. This is a blog. A blog is simply a web based place where someone can write articles, entries or diaries and, if they so desire, their readers can comment on the article/entry. There is no constitutional right to comment on Blog entries. There is no Freedom of the Press issue here.

In fact, the blogsphere has provided more "freedom of the press" than ever before. You see, anyone can now have a blog. Anyone can publish their own opinion with very little cash and almost on knowledge of computers or the Internet. So, if you can't comment here and you wish to blather on about your opinion of the situation... get off your rear and make your own blog. Take some personal responsibility, instead of trying to get your comments heard by hanging on the coattails of someone else's hard work and interesting commentary.

Let's keep the entitlement attitude out of the blogsphere, if possible.

Ratatosk

Posted by: Ratatosk at July 17, 2006 09:30 AM

To all:
Comment sections are a blessing, not a right. MT did not like the tone of the comments and when it get right down to it, it's his blog. So let's stop the whine fest about censorship.

I hope that the facade of official army, private army distinctions that happen so often in the middle east and elsewhere will be demolished by this awful conflict. I do pity Lebanon and I do grieve for the innocents that are dying. But this theme of "oh, those are the militants who are firing on you, you can't blame us" is to cynical to handle. If a country is going to have a private army running free on it's territory and it decides to make war on another country it is going to suffer. It either has to get control of that group and incorporate it into the government or it has to clean it up. If it is too weak to do it themelves it has to reach out to get help to do it. It can't ignore it and then allow that private militia to run it's foreign policy. Those scenes of destruction make me cry, I am not an unfeeeling monster. But if you have a cancer in one part of your body you either root it out or you let it infect the entire body.

Posted by: kevin peters at July 17, 2006 10:19 AM

Ratatosk: "... This isn't The Press. This is a blog....There is no constitutional right to comment on Blog entries. There is no Freedom of the Press issue here..... "

I think you misunderstood the point. The principal is that if you own a blog (or a press) you can say what you want because you control the press (or blog).

At least until someone forces you to stop - - it certainly has happened. Thats the limit of "freedom of the press".

Posted by: Johnny Eck at July 17, 2006 10:28 AM

Let's keep the entitlement attitude out of the blogsphere, if possible.---Ratatosk

Hi Tosk.

Absolutely. You have precisely described the situation. That said, I was not overly impressed with the 'course' of events or the logic on that particular thread. It 'felt' wrong, and frankly it still does. Not the actions, which as you rightfully point out are the sole right of the 'ownership', but the 'rationales' for ,and 'timing', of the actions.

I think I will probably not comment here in the future, but I wanted to thank you for all the entertainment, information and good humour. You and many others here are class acts, and this blog is lucky to have you.

Keep up the good work.

Posted by: dougf at July 17, 2006 10:39 AM

Strawmen are being erected. To turn off comments does not create constitutional free speech issues. Did anyone say that?

But if the New York Times "shuts off" its readers from opinions and expressions the editors don't care for it represents as much deep hypocrisy as a blogger who shuts down comments simply because he does not like the content.

At stressful times with big issues the rhetoric gets heated. That this blogger could not bear to hear the din makes either the control of his own eyes (he may skip comments) or control of his "editorial proclivities" suspect.

It should just be remembered, when the going got tough, he pulled the plug.

How I personally try to process events is to seek out differing points of view. I am capeable of ignoring the obvious garbage posts.

I'll remember that should a difficuult situation arise which may rub Mr. Totten the wrong way, I'll have to look elsewhere for open dialog.

Posted by: reader at July 17, 2006 11:17 AM

Strawmen are being erected. To turn off comments does not create constitutional free speech issues. Did anyone say that?

But if the New York Times "shuts off" its readers from opinions and expressions the editors don't care for it represents as much deep hypocrisy as a blogger who shuts down comments simply because he does not like the content.

At stressful times with big issues the rhetoric gets heated. That this blogger could not bear to hear the din makes either the control of his own eyes (he may skip comments) or control of his "editorial proclivities" suspect.

It should just be remembered, when the going got tough, he pulled the plug.

How I personally try to process events is to seek out differing points of view. I am capeable of ignoring the obvious garbage posts.

I'll remember that should a difficuult situation arise which may rub Mr. Totten the wrong way, I'll have to look elsewhere for open dialog.

Posted by: reader at July 17, 2006 11:18 AM

Agreed that this is Michael's blog, his to run as he wishes. That's why I try to keep a civil tongue in my head. I've followed his blogging for some years now, and regret that possibly my first comments here are in disagreement on this personally painful subject.

Posted by: The Sanity Inspector at July 17, 2006 11:19 AM

Thank you for the excellent and passionate series of posts since this nightmare began, Michael. They've been both informative and heartbreaking.

Terrific work.

Celeste Fremon

Posted by: rosedog at July 17, 2006 11:27 AM

Mr. Totten:
Ignore the anklebiters. You have always allowed a free flow of ideas, even when some posters take the opposite take on certain issues. I know this because you have always allowed me to speak my mind and we sometimes are on the opposite sides of an argument. The fact that you shut down comments for a brief time, everyones comments by the way not just one side of the argument, is your right as owner of this blog and it is not a signal of any desire to censor or is it a lack of respect for Free Speech. Right or wrong, you were trying to protect the feelings of a friend who was suffering and that is a good thing no matter what anyones opinion of the war is.

Posted by: kevin peters at July 17, 2006 11:30 AM

Many of the comments I have read in other blogs suggests that Lebanon has neither the political will nor the capability to control Hezbollah--Is that true? and if it is, what is an acceptable Israeli response? If those who are criticizing Israel for a disproportionate response cannot answer that question, then they are part of the problem not part of the solution. Moreover, were I an Israeli, and was told that the government of Lebanon cannot bring Hezbollah under control, the most cogent option to me seems for Israeli occupation and cleansing (however defined) of "hezbollah land."

I am not trying to pick a fight or resort to namecalling--I am interested in who has what solutions. Reject my idea; replace it, but lets focus on solutions.

Posted by: RogerA at July 17, 2006 02:26 PM

"Reader" (not "I am"), you're attempting to hijack the thread to talk about what you want to talk about, and using my decision to keep the comments open to settle old scores, which is what I asked people not to do, in the previous thread.

Newspapers don't print all the letters to the editor they get -- the bigger ones don't print one in 50. A censor is by definition a government entity, not a private citizen policing his open-to-the-public property.

Kindly can it.

Posted by: Callimachus at July 17, 2006 03:07 PM

There's an interesting post on the subject at:http://www.michaelyon-online.com/wp/jihad.htm
Such a sad, sorry situation. I wonder if we Americans really understand what it's like to live in a war zone. A friend of mine lived through the Bosnian civil war, and she occasionally tries to describe it to me, but I don't think I fully comprehend it.
I appreciate this site and MJT's ability to analyze the ME. I only recently discovered the comments section of blogs, and while they can be interesting and informative, too often they descend into name calling and axe-grinding. I'm glad he had the courage to shut down the comments section when things got out of hand. Why do we feel it's OK to drop civility when we can't see each other and may disagree on some things?

Posted by: sallyo at July 17, 2006 03:22 PM

As someone who has already made his views on certain issues known, might I just add that I just received a very courteous ,considerate, and informative reply from Mr.Totten on this issue .

I will allow MJT to fill in the blanks when he is free of his present commitments, but I am now fully appreciative of his positions on this matter .

When he is able to address this issue I feel certain that everyone (including me) will be more 'understanding'. And this is yet another example of the hazards of jumping to conclusions. I will now hobble off on those fractured ankles I received from my own mad dash.

Just FYI.

Posted by: dougf at July 17, 2006 03:33 PM

Good Lord, these people are eating it up.

http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/1666361/posts

Posted by: Kapow at July 17, 2006 04:26 PM

Would all the American idiots on here stop apologizing for not being in a war zone? I'm sure some of us Americans on here have fought in wars or were around on 9/11 and yeah, we do know what it is like. Doesn't excuse Leb. people from taking responsibility and crying about Israel when they knew all along that they were allowing a terrorist Iranian offshoot control 1/3 of their land and 1/3 of their gov't. What did they think that the Party of Allah would one day moderate (don't you love that word) and decide to be peace-loving model Lebanese citizens?

And will the apologists please stop making excuses for the Lebanese gov't who did nothing to disarm Hezbollah and welcomed them into the gov't with open arms? Yes, even some Christians. Before Israel was created there were many Jewish armies ( I believe around 4). Ben-Gurion announced that if Israel was going to be a state there would be 1 army and 1 army only. A ship came into town called the Altalena which was a Jewish rival army boat. Ben-Gurion had his army (the precursor to the IDF) crush this rival army with Rabin actually executing it for him. In the process several innocent Jews were killed who were holocaust survivors. Now you may ask if this was easy. It was of course very difficult, but Ben-Gurion knew to have a legitimate state there can only be one army, not rival militias. This was Lebanon's mistake and it may cost them everything in the end.

Posted by: Jordana at July 17, 2006 05:44 PM

"2. Israel cannot tolerate attacks on Haifa."

Michael,

Under what logic are attacks on Kiryat Shmoneh and Nahariah tolerable, but attacks on Haifa intolerable? Likewise, why should the wisdom/idiocy of 'escalating' the war further be dependent on whether or not Hezbollah strikes at Tel Aviv, and not just Haifa?

I simply can't work out why the Israeli government, as well as the US media, seem to have adopted this mindset.

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