July 21, 2006

Shadows

By Callimachus:

This John Kifner piece is on the New York Times wire tonight:
The Hezbollah guerrilla campaign that ended Israel's 18-year occupation of southern Lebanon in 2000 was in many ways a precursor to the kind of asymmetrical warfare U.S. troops are facing in Iraq — and Israeli troops would face again if they entered Lebanon in large numbers.

Suicide bombers, roadside explosives and ambushes were the weapons the shadowy force that called itself the resistance used to drive out a superior conventional army.

"By limiting the firing, we were able to keep the cards in our hands," said Sheik Nabil Qaouk, then and now the Hezbollah commander in the south, in a rare interview six years ago, shortly after the Israeli withdrawal.

"We were able to do small, little battles where we had the advantage," the sheik, a Shiite imam who is also referred to as a general, said at the time in Tyre, Lebanon.

Now, as Israel contemplates the possibility of another land invasion of Lebanon, its commando reconnaissance teams are meeting stiff fighting as they discover that Hezbollah has spent much of the past six years constructing networks of fortified bunkers and tunnels and amassing stores of thousands of rockets.

This article, "Why the Strong Lose," by Jeffrey Record, turned up in the winter 2005 edition of "Parameters." It might be worth a re-visit.
[A]ll major failed US uses of force since 1945 — in Vietnam, Lebanon, and Somalia — have been against materially weaker enemies. In wars both hot and cold, the United States has fared consistently well against such powerful enemies as Nazi Germany, Imperial Japan, and the Soviet Union, but the record against lesser foes is decidedly mixed. ... In each case the American Goliath was militarily stalemated or politically defeated by the local David. The phenomenon of the weak defeating the strong, though exceptional, is as old as war itself. Sparta finally beat Athens; Frederick the Great always punched well above his weight; American rebels overturned British rule in the Thirteen Colonies; the Spanish guerrilla bled Napoleon white; Jewish terrorists forced the British out of Palestine; Vietnamese communists drove France and then the United States out of Indochina; and mujahideen handed the Soviet Union its own “Vietnam” in Afghanistan. Relative military power is hardly a reliable predictor of war outcomes.
Record's piece summarizes observations that others have made -- tentatively, perhaps because they are so disturbing to us. Democracies are particularly vulnerable to losing "protracted conflicts against irregular foes." He cites Gil Merom's observation that "democracies fail in small wars because they find it extremely difficult to escalate the level of violence and brutality to that which can secure victory.”

True. And an honorable military tradition in a free people, even when they face defeat, also recoils from such brutality. The Confederate generals in the Civil War, West Pointers, deliberately rejected the option of guerrilla warfare, though many saw it as their best chance for independence. Forrest, a private man with no military education, proved how effective insurgency could be against the Yankees in Mississippi in 1862. But Lee did not follow his path. After the war, Forrest proved it again by founding the Klan. Americans today routinely list him among the nation's 10 greatest villains.

But the cruel truth is, barbarism works -- if by "works" you means defeats the insurgents at a horrific cost in innocent human lives. The French learned that in Algeria, and they also learned the consequence; a free and democratic state with an civilized population simply cannot sustain such a war.

By 1955, the revolutionary FLN was pursuing a policy of open genocide in Algeria: Kill all the French. Civilians of all ages and conditions were hacked to pieces, infants ripped from the womb and dashed to pieces in front of dying mothers, all the depths of depravity of terrorism. If it managed to kill a French official, it then tried to bomb his funeral, too.

The violence spiraled in 1956. The French got tough. In January 1957, Gen. Jacques Massu and his 4,600 men got carte blanche to clean the insurgents out of Algiers. Torture, which had been banned to French soldiers since the Revolution, crept back into use.
The argument was that successful interrogation saved lives, chiefly of Arabs; that Arabs who gave information would be tortured to death, without restraint, by the FLN, and it was vital for the French to make themselves feared more. It was the Arab belief that Massu operated without restraint, as much as the torture itself, which caused prisoners to talk. [Paul Johnson, "Modern Times"]
Torture was not the end of it. According to one French official in a position to know, some 3,000 prisoners "disappeared" during the Algiers battle. It was the one battle in the insurgency that the French clearly won. Fighting the FLN near its own level, with matching weapons of terror, Massu won the fight for Algiers. But civilized France all but tore itself to pieces in the process.
On the one hand, by freeing army units from political control and stressing the personalities of commanders, it encouraged private armies: colonels increasingly regarded themselves as proprietors of their regiments, as under the monarchy, and began to manipulate their generals into disobedience. In the moral confusion, officers began to see their primary obligation as towards their own men rather than the state. At the same time, news leaking out of what the army had done in Algiers began to turn French liberal and centre opinion against the war. From 1957 onward, many Frenchmen came to regard Algerian independence, however distasteful, as preferable to the total corruption of the French public conscience. Thus the demand for the restoration of political control of the war -- including negotiations with the FLN -- intensified just as the French army was, as it believed, winning by asserting its independence.
This irreconcilable conflict produced the explosion of May 1958 which collapsed the Fourth Republic and returned de Gaulle to power. Record adds:
For democracies, the strategy of “barbarism” against the weaker side’s noncombatant social and political support base is neither morally acceptable nor, over time, politically sustainable. Since 1945, wars against colonial or ex-colonial peoples have become increasingly unacceptable to most democratic states’ political and moral sensibilities. Merom says that “what fails democracies in small wars is the interaction of sensitivity to casualties, repugnance to brutal military behavior, and commitment to democratic life.” Democracies fail in small wars because, more specifically, they are unable to resolve three related dilemmas: “how to reconcile the humanitarian values of a portion of the educated class with the brutal requirements of counterinsurgency warfare, ... how to find a domestically acceptable trade-off between brutality and sacrifice, [and] how to preserve support for the war without undermining the democratic order.”
Dictatorships, of course, have no such constraint. And insurgents seem instinctively to grasp this weakness in their democratic foes. Record introduces Robert Pape's landmark study of suicide terrorism from 1980 through 2003, which speculated that suicide terrorism, like guerrilla warfare, is “a strategy of coercion, a means to compel a target government to change policy.” It is felt to be especially effective against democracies, Record notes, for three reasons:
First, democracies “are thought to be especially vulnerable to coercive punishment.” Their threshold of intolerable pain is lower than that of dictatorships. Second, democracies are believed to be more restrained than authoritarian regimes in their use of force, especially against noncombatants. “Democracies are widely perceived as less likely to harm civilians, and no democratic regime has committed genocide in the twentieth century.” Third, “suicide attacks may also be harder to organize or publicize in authoritarian police states.”
Do you think Israel has learned all this? They could teach us the lessons. Every time the Americans make a military display then pull back rather than bringing down the hammer, as they did in Fallujah in April 2004, the jihadis surge. They make sure the message gets through: We defeated the infidel Marines. We are strong, they are weak. And when they do so they draw power, they suck in thousands of young men with their mirage of victory. And more blood and carnage follows. The image of America pulling back from a fight is what inspired bin Laden in the first place:
"After leaving Afghanistan, the Muslim fighters headed for Somalia and prepared for a long battle, thinking that the Americans were like the Russians. The youth were surprised at the low morale of the American soldiers and realized more than before that the American soldier was a paper tiger and after a few blows ran in defeat. And America forgot all the hoopla and media propaganda ... about being the world leader and the leader of the New World Order, and after a few blows they forgot about this title and left, dragging their corpses and their shameful defeat."
And ... well, I'll let the interviewer tell the rest of the story:
The Somalia operation, in some ways, made bin Laden. During the Afghan war, the CIA had been very aware of him (although the agency now insists it never "controlled" him), but in Somalia, bin Laden had taken a swing at the biggest kid in the school yard and given him a black eye.
This is no secret. CNN's Jeff Greenfield, for example, has connect the same three dots:
It began as a peacekeeping mission in March, 1983. U.S. Marines were sent to Lebanon to try to stop a bloody civil war. Seven months later, 20 years ago today, a massive truck bomb blew up the Marine barracks in Beirut, killing 241 U.S. servicemen -- the worst single-day loss of life for the American military since Korea.

Grim as the news was, it was, in part, overshadowed by the U.S. invasion of Grenada two days later, to overthrow a hard-left pro-Cuban government.

And when President Reagan ordered the Marines to leave Lebanon in January, 1984, not many Americans paid attention.

But by some accounts, others did pay attention. That terrorist act of 20 years ago may have helped to convince some of America's adversaries that the United States, for all of its might, was vulnerable, that heavy losses could be inflicted upon it at a relatively low price.

After all, the reasoning went, the U.S. had lost a war in Vietnam, not because it was militarily weak, but because it did not have the political will to bear the costs. And over the years, these adversaries seemed to take heart from what they saw as American weakness, from what the U.S. did not do when it left Saddam Hussein in power after the first Gulf War, when it pulled troops out of Somalia in 1993 after 18 Americans were killed -- the Black Hawk down incident -- when it failed to strike hard after the 1996 Khobar Towers bombing or the 1998 embassy bombings in Africa that killed 19 Americans, or the attack in 2000 on the USS Cole that left 17 dead.

That history may have been what Osama bin Laden had in mind when he said, three months after 9/11: "When people see a strong horse and a weak horse, by nature they will like the strong horse." Indeed, one of the principle arguments made for American military action in Afghanistan and in Iraq was that the U.S. had to prove by direct action that America was not a weak horse, that al Qaeda and its allies were misreading America's resolve. If that's true, that Beirut bombing of 20 years ago may have been where that miscalculation began.

Posted by Callimachus at July 21, 2006 09:09 PM
Comments

This is what we have nukes for. The last time they were used, they were used successfully against an enemy which was already resorting to mass suicide attacks.

Proportionality LOSES wars. Ask Gen. Sherman. Ask Gen. Patton.

Posted by: Louis Spielman at July 21, 2006 09:19 PM

By limiting the firing, we were able to keep the cards in our hands," said Sheik Nabil Qaouk, then and now the Hezbollah commander in the south, in a rare interview six years ago, shortly after the Israeli withdrawal.
"We were able to do small, little battles where we had the advantage," the sheik, a Shiite imam who is also referred to as a general, said at the time in Tyre, Lebanon.

I rest my case.

Posted by: dougf at July 21, 2006 09:59 PM

This is what we have nukes for.

Nukes are not a very useful military weapon in most situations, they are all or nothing. George Kennan discussed that point in several articles during the 50's and made a good case, I believe.

Now, if you simply want to wipe someone off the map, they have a use. But that is not the common aim in war.

Posted by: chuck at July 21, 2006 10:01 PM

Not just yet.

Posted by: Vanderleun at July 22, 2006 12:15 AM

The post is suggesting that democracies lose because they aren't brutal enough. While I don't disagree with any of the points highlighted above, the "Why the Strong Lose" article does a much better job of highlighting all the problems with asymmetrical warfare. I was thinking about how I've never heard of a foreign dictatorship doing so well occupying hostile regions either, so obviously mere brutality and the willingness to crush the enemy isn't the deciding factor. I think the article hits the nail on the head that the reason why major powers can be defeated is that the insurgents are fighting for survival while the external power is limited. Moreover, I would highlight the difference in the war nation's populace towards the conflict as well. In situations where countries start wars and then are defeated and occupied it seems like there is a significant decrease in hostility to the external power as oppossed to situations where they had (in their minds) no justification for being occupied. I don't see any difference between dictatorships and democracies from this angle. Just ask the Kosovars/Chechens/Afghanis/countless Africans whether losing (in some cases) millions of civilians caused them to cave in.

While the post seems to insinuate that democracies have a weakness because of violence aversion, I would actually argue that it is collective intelligence recognizing that in the face of native insurgencies we don't have as much at stake and will invariably lose. In WWII for instance, we did feel like our survival was at stake and the populace supported such brutal tactics as firebombing that killed hundreds of thousands of civilians. To me this is the essence of the Powell Doctrine. While the post and many people implicitly argue we should not change our policy about which wars to fight, only the amount of support the populace gives, I would say the opposite. Where there is a lack of will to completely turn the entire country into a war apparatus at a cost to every individual, we should not fight at all. For our Afghanistan war, I truly believe that will would have been there if required, while other "counter-terrorism" wars are widely believed to be best dealt with "surgically" and attempting to fight a full scale war has led to disaster. It doesn't help matters when the Administration never had the will to fight a major war either, but even if it had I'm not sure that the political circumstances would necessarily be much different.

I'm confused about the Israel reference. If there is anything that Israel seems to have learned, it's that they can't win a counter-insurgency. That's why the stated aim in the current conflict is to invade, destroy as much materiale as possible and get the hell out.

Posted by: Mikkel at July 22, 2006 12:26 AM

All symmetrical wars resemble one another, each asymmetrical war is asymmetrical in its own way.

Gen. Leo Tolstoy

Posted by: monkyboy at July 22, 2006 03:30 AM

Two possible counter examples:

1. China in Tibet

2. Syria in Lebanon

Is suppression or manipulation of media being ignored in these arguments?

Is close racial relation of the antagonists being ignored?

BTW - "Nuke em" sounds old, broken down, and impotent.

Posted by: jdwill at July 22, 2006 04:36 AM

Michael, Callimachus:

Are you going to allow "nuke" talks on your site?

You are aware that this means civilian genocide, are you?

There's a limit to everything.

Posted by: Lira at July 22, 2006 06:03 AM

I was wondering how long it would take before the "thought police" showed up...

Posted by: Josh at July 22, 2006 06:13 AM

The use of nuclear weapons does not equate to genocide. The fact that you do not wish them to even be discussed is simply evidence of the extent to which the left has successfully demonized nuclear weapons (and nuclear power generation) over the last forty years. So you appeal to the moderators to ban even the mention of them? Ridiculous.

If it takes nukes to destroy a threat to a free nation like Israel, they have every right to use them and should do so.

Posted by: Michael Smith at July 22, 2006 06:18 AM

I think the post does a good job of describing one of the main obstacles facing our army, the Israeli army and others. I would hope that when people read comments calling for a very brutal strategy that they appreciate that these calls are often for a workable solution, not bloodthirsty warmongering. Simply put, massive and disheartening casualties on the enemy side works.

Accepting that we're too civilized or moral (or weak) to do such a thing, might I suggest that there are alternative policies tailor-made for specific enemies. In the case of muslims, taking their land, deporting all the people and threatening to take more land is their greatest weak spot. Their religion is expansionist and setbacks to their conquest of more land causes them great pain.

I think Israel should pull a William T. Sherman on them, and destroy every building, burn every field, and deport every human being in south lebanon. Give them an ultimatum to sue for peace or the land will be annexed. Keep pushing them back, creating a larger and larger no-man's land. Yes, the world will squawk, but arabs and muslims will feel it worse than merely killing millions of them. They care far more for the land than their own people.

Similarly, every time America is attacked by terrorists, pick a muslim country, destroy it and deport all muslims, declaring it muslim-free forever (start with an oil rich shiekdom). After losing a couple of countries, attacks will stop, Americans will have lots more oil and bases in the middle east. Any American president who did such a thing would be so admired that muslims would name their first-borns after him. Yes, they would respect, fear, and admire such a ruthless warrior much as they still hold Richard the Lionheart in respect to this day. They have utter contempt for weakness, and for a powerful country to show weakness is revolting beyond words for them. Do them a favor - traumatize them. Then they can break out of the hopeless, self-pitying state they're in and join the civilized world. Maybe later you can let some of them back into their old countries (after they convert, of course).

And yes, I know, Sherman didn't deport civilians. I was calling for tactics that would break the enemy's will. Losing land would do that for muslims.

Posted by: Gary Gluon at July 22, 2006 07:33 AM

Darn that crazy "left" for demonizing nuclear weapons! (oops, I meant "unhinged" not crazy - that's what all the cool kids are saying these days). We need another Hiroshima darnit! That'll teach 'em!

It's disheartening to watch the keyboardists get patted on their little heads in this corner of the blogosphere for their caveman-chic chest pounding... until I walk around and talk to real people and am reminded that these are the unhinged perspectives and more and more people are becoming aware of the moral and intellectual bankruptcy of the neocons and their fellow travelers.

Here's hoping that the sane people get their acts together before ya'll get your WWIII wet dreams.

Posted by: Ken Spice at July 22, 2006 07:39 AM

I say Nuke them all... the entire Middle East. Why not? We'll take out Lebanon, Egypt, Syria, Iran, Israel all of them. Lets destroy the entire reigon. That will teach them to fight each other!

I want to kill. I mean, I wanna, I wanna kill. Kill. I wanna, I wanna see, I wanna see blood and gore and guts and veins in my teeth. Eat dead burnt bodies. I mean kill, Kill, KILL, KILL."

Posted by: Ratatosk at July 22, 2006 08:33 AM

You can get anything you want ...
Heh.

Any chance of getting this thread back on the very interesting topic of our chances in asymmetrical warfare?

I really want to know if the China in Tibet story has any lessons for us. It seems they have succeeded by moving slowly and being as patient as, well, Chinese.

Posted by: jdwill at July 22, 2006 08:40 AM

Brutality works, yes. But works to do WHAT?

You can defend yourself against an army by slaughtering it and the civilians who accompany it. You can prop up a dictatorship that way for a long time, indefinitely. But we are not facing an army, and our goal is not to create brutal dictatorships that slaughter people. These means serve the end of tyrannies. They do not serve the ends of democracies. You can call that a weakness if you like, but I don't see it that way.

Invading a country that doesn't threaten you to make liberty flower in the desert rules out nuclear weapons--it wouldn't just be evil to nuke Baghdad, it would be incoherent.

Posted by: Katherine at July 22, 2006 08:45 AM

Katherine,

It seems completely coherent to me:

We invaded Iraq because they might have gotten WMD's and Saddam was so completely insane that he might have used them. In fact, in order to put down a insurrection, he did use them and he's now on trial for War Crimes because he aimed WMD's at civillians.

How better to stop the insurrectins now, than to use WMD's, so the world will be safer? We should also try to completely displace the Arab nation, for daring to try to displace the nation of Israel. Remember, it's ok if it's our finger on the button and our enemies that are subject to genocide and displacement.

Oh, wait I think my logic circuit has a short in it... brb...

Posted by: Ratatosk at July 22, 2006 09:20 AM

I've never heard of a foreign dictatorship doing so well occupying hostile regions either

Would you count the Roman, Arabian, or Mongol Empire? Each controlled many foreign nationalities for hundreds of years. Heck, the Ottomans did it in the Middle East. The Soviets started World War II by invading Poland, which they continued to occupy for 45 years after defeating Germany; there was no Polish insurgency, but surely the Poles didn't think they deserved what had happened.

Posted by: bgates at July 22, 2006 09:23 AM

What's it gonna take for the holier than thou loser brigade to get it?

Another smoking urban cinder?
Another Holocaust?

We are engaged in a fight for survival every bit as existential as the Israelis half century-long fight has been...And against the very same consortium of Islamic fascists to boot.

What's it going to take?

Our collective enemies openly telegraph their intentions. They act to further their intentions 24/7, yet all our self-flagellating useful idiots seem able to do is navel gaze whilst Blah blah blahing us toward defeat - for what?
To salve their precious ego's?

If I didn't give such a crap about my fellow civilized friends, families, and institutions I'd just love to see the left get its godamned way.

Let's just pull out of everywhere. Screw the oil which fuels and lubricates our tolerant modernity. Screw the poor Muslims who would suffer the depravity of the Islamic fascist caliphate their silence and innaction seems to indicate they desire. Let's watch Europe wimper and abort their collective nuanced way softly into the night.

Because then we could just submit to the inevitable and negotiate a peace at no cost with the fascist Ummah at the edge of some crater that was once NY or LA. But not to worry...The Donks have a "plan" to fund teachers, and stem cell research...Then we can all live happily ever after in gay marital bliss - except for that pesky sharia thingy.

Arbeit Macht Frei.

Posted by: Monkeyfan at July 22, 2006 09:24 AM

Oh I almost forgot - Allahu Akbar.
Dirka burka Jihad,

Posted by: Monkeyfan at July 22, 2006 09:30 AM

I have one thing to say to all the "Let's nuke em" crowd. And all the "You have to be brutal to win a war, and civilians be damned." crowd:

You guys make the EXACT same argument made by Osama Bin Laden and his ilk to justify 9-11 and similar terror attacks. WORD FOR WORD.

If you're ok with that, please carry on...

Posted by: Bad Vilbel at July 22, 2006 09:36 AM

And when they do so they draw power, they suck in thousands of young men with their mirage of victory.

It's not the mirage of victory if they, in fact, ultimately win.

Posted by: Whomever at July 22, 2006 10:17 AM

The difference, Bad Vilbel, is that they started it. We are entitled to finish it.

Posted by: moon6 at July 22, 2006 10:21 AM

moon6,

Anyone who's seen 2 10 year-olds having a fight in a playground knows very well that "He started it." doesn't really accomplish anything. Both sides are always convinced that the other side started it, and that they are fully entitled to retaliate.

We all know who started this: Hezbollah. Case closed. But that, in and of itself doesn't justify nuking anyone on account of "they started it".

Like I said, this is word for word how guys like Bin Laden justify their attacks to their followers and to the world. Lest we forget lines like "American started it by invading Iraq." or "America started it by supporting Israel" or whatever other crap they have to tell themselves and their followers.

Posted by: Bad Vilbel at July 22, 2006 10:29 AM

Just so I'm clear. What I'm arguing here is not who started this (HA, we all agree).
My point was in the faulty logic i see posted here by the crowd that thinks it is justified to use nukes (or basically whatever means necessary) on account of "they started it". Bin Laden and co. made American civilian targets fair game by this logic. I feel sorry for people who can't see the similarity.

Posted by: Bad Vilbel at July 22, 2006 10:33 AM

Hook, Line, and Sinker.

Please by all means show us those words that prove your red herring.

Can't do it?

In any event, here are some of Osama's words:

---
"It never occurred to us that the commander-in-chief of the American armed forces would abandon 50,000 of his citizens in the twin towers to face those great horrors alone, the time when they most needed him.

But because it seemed to him that occupying himself by talking to the little girl about the goat and its butting was more important than occupying himself with the planes and their butting of the skyscrapers. We were given three times the period required to execute the operations ? All Praise is Due to Allah."

"But the darkness of the black gold blurred his vision and insight, and he gave priority to private interests over the public interests of America.

So the war went ahead, the death toll rose, the American economy bled, and Bush became embroiled in the swamps of Iraq that threaten his future."
---

Leftist Talking Points...?

---
"The events that affected my soul in a direct way started in 1982 when America permitted the Israelis to invade Lebanon and the American Sixth Fleet helped them in that. This bombardment began and many were killed and injured and others were terrorised and displaced.

I couldn't forget those moving scenes, blood and severed limbs, women and children sprawled everywhere. Houses destroyed along with their occupants and high rises demolished over their residents, rockets raining down on our home without mercy.

The situation was like a crocodile meeting a helpless child, powerless except for his screams. Does the crocodile understand a conversation that doesn't include a weapon? And the whole world saw and heard but it didn't respond."
---

No mention that Allah's arseholes hid themselves as they do even now amongst those poor civilians.

---
And it was to these sorts of notions and their like that the British diplomat and others were referring in their lectures at the Royal Institute of International Affairs. [When they pointed out that] for example, al-Qaida spent $500,000 on the event, while America, in the incident and its aftermath, lost - according to the lowest estimate - more than $500 billion.

Meaning that every dollar of al-Qaida defeated a million dollars by the permission of Allah, besides the loss of a huge number of jobs.

As for the size of the economic deficit, it has reached record astronomical numbers estimated to total more than a trillion dollars.

And even more dangerous and bitter for America is that the mujahidin recently forced Bush to resort to emergency funds to continue the fight in Afghanistan and Iraq, which is evidence of the success of the bleed-until-bankruptcy plan - with Allah's permission.
---

Sound familiar to you?
Sounds like standard DNCese to me.

But I guess it all depends on who's side you're on...

Posted by: Monkeyfan at July 22, 2006 10:38 AM

(sigh)

BV, What justifies level of response for you?

a. Perceived threat
b. Justified payback
c. Cost/Benefit
d. Other

Posted by: jdwill at July 22, 2006 10:49 AM

idwill,

I'll be perfectly honest. I don't have an answer for you. I think a response WAS justified. I wasn't arguing that point.

I've stated elswhere that Israel could not stand by idle waiting for Lebanon to go through the lengthy process of disarming Hezbollah (and make no mistake, it's going to be a lengthy process, because Lebanon did not have the capacity to disarm Hezbollah overnight). Israel had every right to defend itself. No question.

Having said that, any response needs to be measured as a means to an end, not as an end in and of itself. Israel's response is tied in to whatever goals (publically declared or otherwise) they have set for themselves. One has to realize that destruction, in and of itself, does not accomplish anything. If you have to destroy, then you need to be doing it with a clear idea of what you hope to accomplish. And here, I firmly believe that the ultimate solution IS diplomatic. The military action itself is a means to give yourself the upper hand and the best bargaining position available, for when you do eventually sit down and talk. I have to believe that is the case, because otherwise, war is just onging forever. Israel does not want to be at war until the end of time (nor does anyone else for that matter).

This is why I don't see the point in talking about the use of nukes. People who speak that language are speaking out of anger and hatred (hence my comparison to BinLaden) rather than speaking out of a clear and rational analysis of what's in the long run good not only for Lebanon, but for Israel too.

Posted by: Bad Vilbel at July 22, 2006 11:29 AM

"You guys make the EXACT same argument made by Osama Bin Laden and his ilk to justify 9-11 and similar terror attacks. WORD FOR WORD."

Let's clarify something. Bin Laden and all the other members of the Axis of Jihad -- Al Qaeda, Hamas, Hizbulloh, Iran, Syria and all of their various allies -- seek to establish, by force, a global totalitarian Islamic state that abolishes all individual rights and enforces strict Islamic law. America, Israel and the rest of the west seek to prevent this conquest (at least some of us hope to prevent it) and instead preserve free nations in which the function of government is to protect the individual rights of the nation's citizens.

The initiation of force, of any sort, for the purpose of achieving the Jihadist's goal is evil. Targeting of civilians for purposes of achieving this goal is evil.

Retaliatory force employed to stop the Jihadists is moral. Targeting of civilians, if required to stop the Jihadists, is moral.

The use of overwhelming force (like the use of nuclear weapons) is a morally neutral act; it is neither inherently good or bad. Whether it is good or bad depends on who it is done to and for what purpose.

Using overwhelming force (including nuclear weapons) to destroy a regime that is using mass murder to achieve territorial gains -- as the Japanese Imperialists were doing in the 1930s -- is a good, proper and totally moral thing to do.

Using overwhelming force (as in mass strategic bombing raids and enormous invading armies) to destroy a regime that is engaged in the mass murder of millions of people and the military subjugation of an entire continent -- as the Nazi's were -- is a good, proper and totally moral thing to do.

It is not an accident that two of the most successful occupations in history -- the United
States occupations of Japan and of Germany after WWII -- were preceeded by the use of overwhelming force.

Israel's 58 year history of ceaseless conflicts with its neighbors is proof of the folly of "limited war". Israel has smashed the armies of Egypt, Syria, Jordon, Lebanon (and others) time and time again. But because they were never able to (or were never allowed to) inflict destruction on the civilian populations and infrastructure of these countries, the armies were simply rebuilt to attack again in the future.

As far as civilians are concerned, there is no such thing as the right to remain safe and free, with murderers in your midst, while others suffer death and terror at the hands of those murderers. Israel should do whatever it takes -- including the use of nuclear weapons if necessary -- to kill those murderers. The moral responsibility for all resulting civilian deaths rests strictly and solely with the jihadists who make this action necessary.

Posted by: Michael Smith at July 22, 2006 12:12 PM

OK. I don’t either, and I don’t think Israel’s government nor ours does.

Callimachus has spent a few days to teasing out discussion on both the problem of proportionality and the nature of effective/ineffective asymmetrical warfare. Your point about actions being measured as a means to an end suggests cost/benefit to me. However, what is the end? If we desire to assimilate the Middle East population into a Western led global economy, then actions should indeed be measured.

One big problem is that I really don’t think we will reach a diplomatic solution with Islamofacists. As an example, this Der Spiegel interview of Ahmadinejad. That’s not to say that a standoff might be reached, but with the nascent Iranian empire collocated with the worlds major oil reserves, I don’t think so.

So which end is our likely goal?

a. Slow but steady assimilation – this would involve some conquest and occupation
b. Quick sharp crushing of a declared mortal enemy before it gets too strong
c. Some balance of containment with proxy wars at the peripheries
d. Other?

Each goal would suggest different strategies as being the most cost effective.

Posted by: jdwill at July 22, 2006 12:13 PM

BV,

One additional thought - from Callimachus’ link at the top of the post

General Douglas MacArthur spoke for most Americans when he declared, in an address to a Joint Session of Congress on 19 April 1951: “Once war is forced upon us, there is no other alternative than to apply every available means to bring it to a swift end. War’s very object is victory, not prolonged indecision. In war there is no substitute for victory.”

I wholly subscribe to this in a Westphalian system, but I am not sure that is what we are up against.

Posted by: jdwill at July 22, 2006 12:27 PM

"I want to kill. I mean, I wanna, I wanna kill. Kill. I wanna, I wanna see, I wanna see blood and gore and guts and veins in my teeth. Eat dead burnt bodies. I mean kill, Kill, KILL, KILL."--Tosk

Come on Tosk. This hyperbole is beneath you. It is even beneath me. Those who suggest the use of 'nukes' in the current environment are clearly not thinking at all. They are best ignored.

But at some point in some environment, such talk would be if not altogether absolutely appropriate, at least discussable. As you said previously and I am quoting from memory so forgive any lapses-- " I have long believed that there is no such thing as a 'moral' war. A Necessary war perhaps, but not a moral one"

No-one knows the answers but I think we all have a sneaking feeling that push had best not come to shove before this 'fascist' threat is reduced to impotence.

And I am not talking about Lebanon, which is a small aspect of the problem but by no means the real problem.

" And here, I firmly believe that the ultimate solution IS diplomatic.--Bad Vebel

It takes two to tango and it takes two to have a 'diplomatic' solution. One of the parties does NOT want any solution other than a final solution. They have openly told you that. If the world really wants a 'diplomatic' solution to the Lebanese Front then it can suck it self up and put a LARGE multi-national force on the border of Lebanon. That force would be expected to use FORCE to prevent Hezbollah from attacking Israel in any and all instances. It would be expected to absorb casualties and punish those who attacked it. It would be expected to stay there until the Lebanese Army was capable of doing its job. Thus it would be expected to stay there FOREVER.

Anyone see that happening?

No more hudnas --- peace only.

Posted by: dougf at July 22, 2006 12:32 PM

another interesting example is the british in india. ghandi's tactics worked because the british were british. if he had tried them against the chinese or the japanese or the russians the outcome would have been very very diffeerent.

in asymmetrical warfare, the nature of the larger country matters greatly to the choice and effectiveness of the smaller country's tactics.

nasrallah, like nasser in the 60s, began to believe his own puffery and thought that the israeli's response would be what they were in 2000. his read on israeli society was wrong in that the weak response in 2000 was an aberration.

thus the cries from hizbullah's alies for a 'proportionate reponse'. they want to have been right (to say nothing of them wanting israel to lose...)

Posted by: marc at July 22, 2006 12:45 PM

another interesting example is the british in india. ghandi's tactics worked because the british were british. if he had tried them against the chinese or the japanese or the russians the outcome would have been very very diffeerent.

in asymmetrical warfare, the nature of the larger country matters greatly to the choice and effectiveness of the smaller country's tactics.

nasrallah, like nasser in the 60s, began to believe his own puffery and thought that the israeli's response would be what they were in 2000. his read on israeli society was wrong in that the weak response in 2000 was an aberration.

thus the cries from hizbullah's alies for a 'proportionate reponse'. they want to have been right (to say nothing of them wanting israel to lose...)

Posted by: marc at July 22, 2006 12:46 PM

Hitler didnt want peace and neither do Hezbollah.

They both wanted more than what they can get peacefully.

An international force as a buffer between Israel and Hezbollah would make Hezbollah's war against Israel almost impossible.

The only party that benefits from peace in the Middle East is Israel. They already have want they want.

War is a strategic grab for objectives that cant be achieved politically (peacefully).

Wake up and smell the coffee...

Posted by: Freedom Now at July 22, 2006 12:55 PM

Bad Vilbel, I have seen two 10-year olds fighting, and usually one of them did in fact start it. The one that started it is in the wrong, no matter what he thinks.

Yes indeed Hezbollah started this, many years ago. They are in the wrong. I don't really care whether Osama, Nasrallah, etc. use the same language in their statements.

There are good guys and bad guys out there. Neither we nor the Israelis are the bad guys. As to appropriate weaponry...the situation will decide.

Posted by: moon6 at July 22, 2006 01:17 PM

idwill,

You are correct in that my statements put me in the cost/benefit camp (if i had to choose one of your three choices).

Your question of "What is the end?" is the one we should be asking right about now (instead of spouting out hate slogans, like some people on both sides seem to be doing). We need to look past the current hostilities. I know it's hard to do when innocents are dying on both sides, and i might be a hypocrite of sorts of suggesting it, but at SOME POINT, we need to have a next step planned out. What's the next step? What happens next?

You say "One big problem is that I really don’t think we will reach a diplomatic solution with Islamofacists." I agree with that statement at face value. But I'm not suggesting diplomacy with islamofacists. I am suggesting that eventually, once the guns quiet, there will have be some sort of diplomacy with SOMEONE. Or else you're locked into battle forever. The trick (and I don't claim to have a ready-made solution here) is to make the islamofacists irrelevant. I think that's exactly what the current goal of the Israelis is.

When I said that war is only a means to and end, a way to strengthen your bargaining position for an inevitable sit-down with whoever it is you'll sit down with, i meant exactly that. People tend to confuse "diplomatic solution" with "giving in". That is not at all the way I mean it. A diplomatic solution means sitting down and talking and agreeing to something. And that can be done, once the guns quiet. It can be done with the Lebanese government (which is not Islamofascit). In fact, here's my thinking on what exactly will happen next, and you'll see exactly where the "diplomatic solution" i speak of transpires:

- Israel occupies a 20 mile buffer zone or thereabouts, pushing the islamofascits out of range.
- The US finally joins in with calls for a cease-fire and the deployment of an international force.
- Israel immediately agrees to pull out of the buffer zone, and hand it over to the internationals.
- The US and the west spend the next few years building a strong Lebanese government and Army that eventually takes charge of the buffer zone from the internationals (think 5-10 years down the line).

THAT is a diplomatic solution, arrived to by the current "means".

Posted by: Bad Vilbel at July 22, 2006 01:31 PM

moon6,

"I have seen two 10-year olds fighting, and usually one of them did in fact start it. The one that started it is in the wrong, no matter what he thinks."

And I think we all agree on that. My point is: What next? When you see 10 year-olds fighting, you might let them go at it for a couple minutes, but eventually, you still step in and separate them. No? Or do you jump in and start beating the shit out of the kid who's in the wrong?

You see what I'm getting at? Someone's wrong. Fine. We get it. But despite that, we still step in when we see a fight, and we separate the fighters, then we chastise the one that was wrong, and we TALK about it.

Posted by: Bad Vilbel at July 22, 2006 01:34 PM

Heh, heh.

The brilliant minds in the comment boxes want to nuke Lebanon. Poor Totten. I hope he isn't reading this stuff.

What does a country do if part of its own population engages in asymmetrical warfare? Nuke itself?

These guys are either vicious, dumb, or--most likely--just have no patience. Whatever problem arises, their solution is always the same: WHAM!

And if that doesn't work: DOUBLE-WHAM!

Who cares if we know what we're whamming at?

"Whatever it takes."

****

I think the article does prove my point that Hezbollah is a very well-trained, intelligent, and determined adversary: the toughest, man-for-man, that Israel has ever faced. They fight hard and cleverly. They're not afraid to die if they have to, but they're not "blaze-of-glory" types.

Israel simply can't beat them long-term...without the Lebanese. Which makes WHAM!ming the Lebanese without distinction particularly stupid (as well as immoral.)

Short term, Israel can at least hurt them badly...but not without taking a lot of casualties: going in big-time on the ground and engaging in lots of brutal battles. Which they are very loath to do. So they resort to the self-defeating WHAM! in desperation.

Israel doesn't want Hezbollah. Most of Lebanon doesn't want Hezbollah. Israel and non-Hezbollah Lebanon need each other.

But WHAM!mers can't understand the limitations of power. They don't understand needing allies and having to cultivate them. But Israel is not infinite in strength and it does need allies among the Lebanese. Which it won't get if it destroys the whole infrastructure of the country, bombing all the bridges and roads and airports and ports without much distinction and killing lots of civilians.

No more WHAM!s. No matter how satisfying the sound of them may be...

And what a mistake that Israel isn't willing to let it's Beloved Adversary Assad go. He's a force for "stability," they say. But he's an Alawite (a Shia spin-off group) and in alliance with Iran and Hezbollah. The Sunni in Lebanon have become allied with the Christians.

Why not push for a Sunni-majoritarian regime in Syria? It will come, sooner or later. And, in the long term, it will be better for Israel.

Posted by: Jeff at July 22, 2006 01:41 PM

"I am suggesting that eventually, once the guns quiet, there will have be some sort of diplomacy with SOMEONE. Or else you're locked into battle forever."

Nonsense. In the first place, the appropriate response to nations that threaten to destroy us is to annihilate them, not seek a "diplomatic solution" with them.

According to your sort of thinking, instead of demanding and getting unconditional surrender, we should have ended WWII by negotiating a "diplomatic solution" with the Nazis, the Italian Fascists and the Japanese Imperialists.

You start from the premise that no war can be won outright and that "diplomatic solutions" are inevitable and necessary. That is simply false.

Second, the Jihadists have absolutely no interest in diplomacy and no intention of abiding by any "diplomatic solution". They have a single goal: murder infidels to achieve a global totalitarian Islamic state.

How many people do they have to murder to convince you of their sincerity?

Posted by: Michael Smith at July 22, 2006 01:54 PM

On Algeria:

It might be worthwhile to reflect that Algeria has passed through its phase of vicious leftism and become one of the more democratic states in the region. Moreover, it has a population largely fed up with Islamism that backs the government and is friendly to the West.

The radical Muslims get so brutal with their own populations that they lose these wars in the long run. They lose them as in Iran, through conquering and proving their own vicious ineptitude, turning their population pro-Western. Or they lose them by ratcheting up the brutality to the point at which the population turns against them and to the government for protection.

A government which is wise won't just WHAM! the population without distinction. It will seek out the terrorists and be relatively gentle with the population, slowly becoming the ally and the protector, realizing that lots of people are afraid to help even if they want to. It will also allow some democratic freedom of expression and some participation the population in choosing and forming the government.

The French lost in Algeria. And the Pieds-Noires lost absolutely. But Algeria today is a victory for the French policy of Retreat and Cultivate.

Patience. Intelligence. Responding to opportunities, sometimes with force, sometimes with forbearance is what will win this War on Terror. Asymmetrical warfare didn't win in Algeria. And its Achilles' heel is that the groups which use it end up fighting each other and using their terror techniques on each other and on the population at large.

WHAM!ming everywhere solves nothing.

Posted by: Jeff at July 22, 2006 01:56 PM

"What does a country do if part of its own population engages in asymmetrical warfare? Nuke itself?"

No, it does everything in its power to stop those engaging in "asymmetrical warfare", including inviting in others (like the Israelis) to help them if they are not strong enough.

But if they refuse to do that, and if they cannot expel the murderers, they must accept that no one can claim the right to remain safe and free, with murderers in their midst, while others are being terrorized and killed by those murderers.

Posted by: Michael Smith at July 22, 2006 02:07 PM

Michael Smith, please re-read my post. And if you still keep missing my point, there is not much I can do about that. I specifically said :

"I'm not suggesting diplomacy with islamofacists. I am suggesting that eventually, once the guns quiet, there will have be some sort of diplomacy with SOMEONE. Or else you're locked into battle forever. The trick (and I don't claim to have a ready-made solution here) is to make the islamofacists irrelevant. I think that's exactly what the current goal of the Israelis is."

Please read what you're replying to before posting.

Posted by: Bad Vilbel at July 22, 2006 02:12 PM

WWII did end with a diplomatic solution. By the way. AFTER the bombs were done. Germany was not "annihilated" last i checked, it's still there.
Hitler and his cronies were made "irrelevant" and the bombs STOPPED.

I don't see why it's so hard to understand that eventually the bombs wills top, and that something will happen at that point in time.

Posted by: Bad Vilbel at July 22, 2006 02:15 PM

"WHAM!ming everywhere solves nothing."

"Whanming" did a fine job of eliminating Japanese Imperialism, German Nazism, Italian Fascism and Confederate slavery.

Posted by: Michael Smith at July 22, 2006 02:15 PM

Bad Vilbel,
jdwill here

- Israel occupies a 20 mile buffer zone or thereabouts, pushing the islamofascists out of range.

Oh no, the Israeli’s have had their fill of occupation. More likely they will degrade Hezbollah as best they can with in and out attacks and then pull back for negotiations.

- The US finally joins in with calls for a cease-fire and the deployment of an international force.

The UNFIL force is probably compromised - Witness to a kidnapping - Serving side by side

Only good solution is a Lebanese army presence (they have a record of at least some cooperation with the IDF).
I would prefer Hezbollah calls for a cease fire, they could de-escalate this any time by doing this and stopping the rocket fire into Israel. Also, when they do this, we will know they have been hurt substantially – which should be a goal for both Israel and the US.

- The US and the west spend the next few years building a strong Lebanese government and Army that eventually takes charge of the buffer zone from the internationals (think 5-10 years down the line).

My contention is that Israel is the best partner Lebanon could have (and vice versa) If (France?) could broker that deal, then Israel could possibly rehabilitate relations with Lebanon by rebuilding what they have bombed and help get Lebanon’s economy going again.

Of course this diplomatic solution can’t be addressed until Hezbollah is sufficiently weakened so that the other Lebanese political groups can form a government. This will be tough as they just barely got on their feet after 20 years of Syrian occupation.

None of this really addresses Syria and the deeper problem, Iran, but if we are working toward goal (a) slow and steady assimilation, it is a forward step.

Posted by: jdwill at July 22, 2006 02:16 PM

"WWII did end with a diplomatic solution."

Unconditional surrender is not a "diplomatic solution".

Posted by: Michael Smith at July 22, 2006 02:20 PM

Meanwhile, here's where immeasurable quantities of cafe caliber chit-chat coupled with a lack of force has apparently taken the toothless Cedar Revolution.

An intriguing article in Lebanon's Daily Star, in which Sheikh Nasrallah explains quite clearly how Hezbollah now runs the Lebanese government. Nasrallah gave an interview in which he told A-Jazeera that he has assigned some tasks to government officials regarding international negotiations, and how the Lebanese government has entered into an agreement with Nasrallah to allow Hezbollah to operate at will against the Israelis.

More.

Posted by: Stephen_M at July 22, 2006 02:29 PM

Michael Smith

re "Whamming"

What would the Full Monty look like? Would Russia stand by while Iran (so close to its south and a client state) is invaded or destabilized by a decapitating strike? What would China be doing in the meanwhile?

One other thought - with oil production and refining capacity neatly matched with demand, where would the reserves for a big show come from?

Could the current global oil market support a big war?

Don't get me wrong, I would like to "get it over with" as much as anyone, see my Douglas MacArthur post above. I just don't think its an option given the nature of the global struggle we face.

Posted by: jdwill at July 22, 2006 02:30 PM

"What would the Full Monty look like?..................I just don't think its an option given the nature of the global struggle we face."

The potential costs and complications of using overwhelming force on Iran pale beside the prospect of allowing them to acquire/develop nuclear weapons. A nuclear capable Jihad is the worst case scenario, dwarfing any interruption of oil supply or international disapproval.

The Iranians have pledged to destroy us. "Death to America" is practically their state motto. It is chanted by mass crowds at government meetings and functions. Repeatedly. Over and over. Ignoring a threat of that magnitude is folly.

Having said that, I do not believe either the costs or complications would be severe. Iran accounts for only about 6% of the world's crude oil exports -- so interrupting that would not be a major problem.

As far as Russia's reaction, the Russians have suffered some terrible Islamic terrorist attacks, such as the massacre at Beslan. They would have to be nuts to want the Iranians to get their hands on nuclear weapons.

I don't think the Chinese would do anything either. We are a huge market for their exports. They need us a lot more than we need them.

Sure, there will be a lot of protests and global condemnation, just as there was when Israel destroyed Iraq’s nuclear reactor in 1982. But I cannot see any one actually doing something about it.

As far as the specifics of the military action we need to take, I would leave that up to the military. We have the ability to inflict massive damage with an air campaign using conventional weapons alone. We can destroy most if not all of their known nuclear development sites, all of the major regime infrastructure, all of their military installations, and all oil and gas shipping and transportation infrastructure. We can bring their economy to a halt (or a slow grind). We can put a cruise missile through the window of every mosque in Tehran at prayer time (prayer times are published in the Tehran daily paper), which will probably get a lot of the mullahs and top leadership.

I see no reason not to follow the pattern that brought us victory in WWII. Declare war and demand unconditional surrender. Then begin destroying the highest value military and regime targets. As those are destroyed and decrease in number, move on to the economic and civilian targets, ratcheting up the destruction until they either surrender or we have inflicted sufficient damage to insure they are no longer a threat.

Unfortunately, the time to do all this was September 12th. 2001. But it is not too late to convince people that Iran needs to be destroyed. As long as it exists, global terrorism and jihad will continue and if they get nuclear weapons, they will use them.

What would the full Monty look like? Just like WWII: An American juggernaut righteously annihilating the greatest existential threat to western civilization.

Posted by: Michael Smith at July 22, 2006 03:27 PM

The situation will get much worse, now that Israeli armed and infantry forces have entered Lebanon. It's not that same organization Israel left in 2000. Iran and Syria are also heavly involved.

Weekend report

Posted by: Ilan at July 22, 2006 03:47 PM

Jdwill (sorry for the mispelling):

I wasn't referring to a long term occupation like the 1982-2000 one. I was referring to pushing back Hezbollah and creating a bufferzone, and IMMEDIATELY pulling back to hand it over to an international force.

I also wasn't referring to hapless UNIFIL. I was referring to a NEW international force. One empowered to actually disarm Hezbollah and help the Lebanese Army take over.

I agree with you: Ultimately, it is the Lebanese Army would needs to do this job. But it simply does not have the ability to do so TODAY (militarily and politically).

A "stabilization force" will be required while the Lebanese Army is made strong enough to have REAL control of the area, or less you'll end up with Hezbollah infiltrating back in.

PS: As i write this (and i've bee posting this opinion for a couple of days now), it seems to be exactly what we're gearing up towards. Already the US is starting to express its backing for the idea of an international force. And we all know the US wouldn't be floating the idea if it wasn't ok with them and Israel. Look for this exact scenario to play it out in the coming weeks.

Posted by: Bad Vilbel at July 22, 2006 04:06 PM

Michael Smith:

So based on your logic. Why isn't the USA "Whamming" Iran and Syria right away? You stated that's the only language they understand. And the only way to get anything accomplished....

Last I checked, the US was still proceeding through various DIPLOMATIC means towards Iran's nuclear issue.

You contradict yourself.

Posted by: Bad Vilbel at July 22, 2006 04:09 PM

Bad Vilbel,

We separate and talk to the 10 year olds (chastising the one who is wrong) because we can...because they exist as young members of a world supervised by responsible adults living together under a system of law and stability.

That is not what happens with international disputes. There are no yard monitors, no principals, no police officers. No one is in charge.

And sometimes...guys pick fights. When this happens on the international level, you can't run to teacher. You may well have to fight to the death, in real time in the real world, which is where the talk about nukes comes from.

I personally believe Hezbollah needs to be exterminated, with as nearly as possible every member killed. I don't think there's any point in talking to them at all. I personally think it can be done without nukes.

And again, so Osama says we started it? Who cares? We didn't.

Posted by: moon6 at July 22, 2006 04:12 PM

Michael Smith,

While I emphasize with you, I strongly disagree. I have no special knowledge of global strategy, but it seems obvious to me that some things are dramatically different from the scenario that WWII occurred in.

- Russia carried the brunt of the European fighting and was thus completely occupied and had no latitude to cause trouble. Not so now. Pretty sure Putin is not an ally, Beslan notwithstanding.
- China was supine during WWII with barely the capacity to resist the Japanese (as a side note, Mao was able to succeed due to the nationalists being exhausted by WWII)
- India was a colony and while mobilized by the British, had nowhere near the capability they have now, including nuclear weapons.
- Pakistan (an Islamic nuclear power) didn’t even exist
- North Korea – possibly another nuclear power to calculate for
- World Population Growth is a logarithmic spike, nearly tripling since WWII
- 1 billion of these 6+ billion people are between 15 and 24 and most of them aren’t likely to enlist in the US Army

All of these actors have an intense interest in not having the US bestride the world as it could have at the end of WWII. While they can’t project power the way the US can, I submit that they don’t need to. We need access to materials, labor, and markets they either control or can disrupt. During WWII, the US had a fairly self sufficient energy economy and manufacturing base. I work in a Detroit manufacturing industry and I’m pretty sure that we can’t stand alone now. The retooling and retraining would take at least 10 years.

On the other hand, the US economy is a driver for the world economy and these actors don’t want us to crap out either. So IMHO the scenario might be more like a knife fight in a heavily loaded lifeboat. It will be desperate, but it will be controlled and somewhat covert.

OTH I could be completely wrong, we could be in a situation analogous to WWI where all of the actors didn’t want a wider war but were drawn into a disastrous one.

Posted by: jdwill at July 22, 2006 04:26 PM

Israel nuking Lebanon? Do any of you realize that is like the state of Texas dropping one on Oklahoma? Ever hear about that radiation deal on the other side of the explosion? Geez, for smart guys you should do get brain cramps.

Posted by: allan at July 22, 2006 04:33 PM

Leave it to the Times to explain to all of us who had the impression that Israel turned over the south of Lebanon at the request of the West to inform us that indeed, the Israelis were thrown out of Lebanon by the terrorists... the Times leaves no one in doubt that they're not neutral in the WOT.

Interesting that the Lebanese Army is too weak to fight the few hundreds of Hizbollah terrorists but that they will take on the Israeli Army, if they violate Lebanese territory, yes?

Posted by: bob at July 22, 2006 04:55 PM

Bad Vilbel,

Reading past the headline we have ”Lebanon's army of about 70,000 soldiers far outnumbers Hezbollah's estimated 6,000 fighters, but its troops lack the guerrillas' battle experience.”

Lets say that:

a. Hezbollah get reduced by 2K in the field, another 2K remove to Syria or Iran, and the remainder decide to blend into the Lebanese society.
b. Once the Assorted Drama Queens get done screaming, we have 300 to 500 dead Lebanese of whom 50% were probably HA supporters or auxiliaries.
c. The rest of the tribes decide they hate being screwed worse than they hate Israel and decide to pick up the pieces.
d. Syria is no longer a strong enough presence to reestablish Hezbollah

A bunch of Ifs, but plausible, maybe? If this came to pass, an international force would be a problem unless it was a US led NATO force that was mission oriented to get control quickly into the Lebanese armies hands. Said army should be large enough as is for policing the Shia south without getting US forces into situations we don’t want again.

In fact, I think it would be better to put the responsibility on the Lebanese immediately – only they have the real motivation and would be able to kill remaining bad guys without the usual repercussions.

Posted by: jdwill at July 22, 2006 05:03 PM

"You are aware that this means civilian genocide, are you?"

So is exploding a Semtex diaper at a wedding. Or in a pizzaria. Or shooting a garage built pipebomb missile at a city.

Go get some, IDF. Get LOTS.

We'll be along sooner or later. We always are in these world wars... usually later.

But, so far, we are always at the finish, and on top.

Posted by: TmjUtah at July 22, 2006 05:25 PM

jdwill,

I don't disagree with you. I think it would be best for the Lebanese Army to take over ASAP.

I think where you and I disagree is over how realistic that is.

1. I don't know where you got the 70,000 figure. I don't really believe the Leb. Army is that big. (At least from back when I lived there).

2. Your "ifs" are all swell, except for one: (d) Syria is no longer strong enough...
What makes you think this blow to Lebanon/HA is weakening Syria and/or Iran in any way? I'll take it a step further and postulate that Syria and Iran WILL try bring back HA because it is in their interests against Israel and the USA.
I think that is the biggest flaw in your post.

3. I agree with you that any international force needs to be empowered (be it NATO or other), and not just "peacekeepers". And i agree that they need to get the Lebanese Army and govt. involved ASAP.

4. I think in order to have all that happen. It is EXTREMELY important the pro-west anti-syria lebanese government stay in power (which is why it's been emphasized by the US in the past days).

In closing, i agree with the spirit of your post. I simply don't think it's realistic to expect the leb. army to move in next week. Maybe we're talking months, but certainly not weeks or days.

Posted by: Bad Vilbel at July 22, 2006 05:50 PM

Bad Vilbel,

1. The text and 70K number in italics is a quote from the AP news item I gave you a link to in the previous post (about 2/3 of the way into the article). I have also seen this rough number in other news articles.

2. Check. It is the weakest part of scenario, but Syria appears cowed by presence of the 3ID on its western border. I am counting on thenm sitting it out or facing the IAF on one side and the USAF on the other.

We agree on 3 and 4. I have no clue on what would be good timing for the Lebanese Army to make a move, I hope they follow the instructions of the elected government and don’s set any junta precedents.

So now we sit and wait and hope it comes to pass. So far, the US is standing strong, or at least not trying to broker some foolishness. Secretary Rice had clearly signaled that Hezbollah is not a negotiating partner.

BTW When did you live in Lebanon? Are you in the US now?

Posted by: jdwill at July 22, 2006 06:11 PM

Israel will wipe away the HEZBO from the new Walmart parking lot!

Posted by: JOHN KING at July 22, 2006 06:31 PM

I doubt there's a single war we can win against any foe, given the anti-American, anti-Israel, anti-West muslims and Leftards among us who take to the streets at the first sign that we are striking back. Yet no sign of these pro-jihad marchers when palestinians were raining kassams down on southern Israel after the Gaza withdrawal. But as soon as Israel responds, out come the pro-jihad, pro-decapitation crowd marching in the streets with their Leftwing enablers shrieking about "war crimes" and calling for ceasefires. Same with Hesbollah. Like clocwork, it never fails. These ceasefires serve only to reinforce the status quo and ensure perpetual never-ending war. Attack, provoke a response, then as you're getting your asses kicked run to Kofi Anan for a ceasefire. Once a truce has been called you can declare a symbolic victory, and resume your intransigence and provocations and start the whole process all over again. It is happenning before our very eyes right now is south Lebanon, and in the streets of our western capitals. From the Arab pont of view it is pure genius. Sun tzu, Clausewitz -- mere amateurs compared to these guys.

Posted by: Carlos at July 22, 2006 06:39 PM

jdwill,

Pleasure debating. I grew up in Lebanon during the civil war days and currently live in the US.

And yes. Now, we wait and see. As you said.

Posted by: Bad Vilbel at July 22, 2006 07:28 PM

Bad Vilbel,

Likewise.

Posted by: jdwill at July 22, 2006 07:51 PM

And for a change of pace ---

Many expect that the quagmire will begin as Israel’s moves cause Hezb’Allah to become more aggressively responsive. One Hezb’Allah spokesman, CNN’s Nic Robertson, said the IDF troop movements were a provocation “as audacious as parking a truck in front of John Murtha’s sidewalk on trash day.”
Over a thousand Hezb’Allah missiles have been destroyed by Israeli citizens, buildings, and roads in the last week. The innocent missiles were on “no particular course, just minding their own business,” until Jew-controlled gravity brought them down to their destruction at the hands of “Zionist infrastructure.”
The move has made most Hezb’Allah leaders “so mad they could explode.” It is expected that many will soon be taking their case to the United Nations, or perhaps directly to Allah.

Posted by: dougf at July 22, 2006 08:39 PM

For what it's worth, a bit of background.

http://normblog.typepad.com/normblog/2006/07/an_unambiguous_.html

Via Normblog.

Posted by: Barry Meislin at July 23, 2006 01:34 AM

Brilliant essay as usual, my friend. The Middle East is a morass, a mindfield. I haven't a clue, honestly. We're all grasping for analogies- Chamberlain, Sherman, Patton. Right now, Israel's long run prospects don't look so hot. But who the hell knows? I didn't predict the fall of the Berlin Wall- so how in the hell am I going to predict this one? Chalk me up as a Know Nothing. Put it this way- I recognize that hope isn't policy. But that's about all that remains.

Posted by: kreiz at July 23, 2006 07:12 AM

"So based on your logic. Why isn't the USA "Whamming" Iran and Syria right away?

You contradict yourself."

What? The fact that my recommendations are not being followed by the U.S. government certainly does not mean that I have contradicted myself!!

Since what I think OUGHT to be done is different than what IS being done, the two will not be the same. That certainly does not mean that I have contradicted myself.

The U.S. isn't "whamming" Iran and Syria for several reasons. Let me discuss just one, the one that I think is the biggest problem.

For decades, the intellectuals of the left -- the professors and teachers in our colleges and schools, supported and echoed by many in the media -- have waged a long and successful ideological war to convince us that not only is America no better than any other nation, but that we are in fact responsible for much of the world's ills.

For decades, our children have been taught that America is an evil, racist, imperialist society that was founded by rich, white-supremacist slave owners for the purpose of perpetuating white-male superiority. They have been taught that America’s history is one long story of oppression and exploitation: they are taught that the American Indians were a noble, peaceful, civilized people that were genocidally slaughtered and robbed of their land by the U.S. government; they are taught slavery was only superficially abolished and that blacks are still disenfranchised second class citizens persecuted by the criminal justice system and denied good jobs by the evil capitalists; they are taught that workers were forced to labor at bare-subsistence wages until rescued by labor unions; they are taught that the great depression was the result of corporate selfishness; they are taught that females are oppressed by a glass wall that dooms them to do more work than men for less money. They have been taught communism is morally superior to capitalism, that Ho Chi Min and Che Guevara were revolutionary liberators that freed people from the clutches of US imperialism. Etc. ad nauseam.

This, of course, is only a fraction of the revisionist lies taught in our schools. But it is sufficient to illustrate the nature and tone of what is being taught.

The struggle today, they are told, is between a cabal of bloated, rich, fat-cat, crooked big-business Republican CEOs who seek to control the country for their personal profit through crony politicians like Bush and Cheney that steal elections and manipulate the government through their proxy military-industrial corporate complex of companies like Haliburton -- versus the liberal forces of enlightenment that seek to aid the little guys against these terrible odds.

Having had this narrative rammed down their throats from grammar school through college, they are unleashed on society brimming with hate at this long, unrequited list of injustices committed by or on behalf of their country, and they are ready to swallow any story or theory -- however preposterous -- that fits with this view of the world.

Not everyone is taught all of this, and not everyone believes all they are taught. But a significant portion of Americans have swallowed the whole repulsive line -- and this is the hard-core left in America. This is the 15 -20% of Americans who, in polls taken immediately after 9/11, opposed a military response.

This is the base of today’s Democratic party. They do not think America is worth defending, they do not think America deserves defending, and they do not think America needs defending. After all, America is a threat to the world, not the other way around.

In the immediate aftermath of 9/11, this group was mostly silent. At first, 9/11 seemed to upset their world view. Eventually, however, their intellectual masters defined for them the proper response: 9/11 was the inevitable result of American imperialism and war mongering in the middle east!! It was all about the oil and the rich, greedy capitalist desire for hegemony over natural resources! So America had it coming, and all those incinerated, crushed and mangled bodies in Manhattan, at the Pentagon and in that field in Pennsylvania got what they deserved. The whole thing was actually done by the US government at the behest of the Israelis to create an excuse to go into the mideast and trade blood for oil!! Now your talkin‘!!!

(If you doubt that anyone can believe such nonsense, visit the democraticunderground forum.)

This is the group that drives the Democratic party. This is the group to which Durbin, Murtha, Pelosi, Kerry, etc are beholden.

This is the group that is working feverishly and relentlessly to convince the American people that Iraq is an example of what happens when you try to solve problems militarily instead of diplomatically.

In the face of this, no Republican politician has had the brains or the wherewithal to grasp that what the situation in Iraq really proves is the folly of limited, partial war -- a lesson we failed to learn after sacrificing 50,000 Americans in Vietnam.

So we are stuck in a stalemate. Regarding Iran, Bush is (apparently) afraid of additional military action without first playing out the ridiculous game of international diplomacy. So we join with the European Union and offer the Iranians a bribe -- "incentives", if they will promise not develop nuclear weapons -- which is a craven attempt at appeasment and a surrender to what is effectively nuclear extortion.

With regard to the attack on Israel, our best ally in the ill-named war against terror, an attack launched by Iran's proxy, we respond by sending our Secretary of State to the mideast to “diplomatically resolve” the latest conflict between those who wish to live in peace and those irrevocably dedicated to their extermination. This is a response which no one can possibly think will resolve anything and which is so laughably preposterous that I do not understand how anyone discusses it with a straight face. I feel so sorry for Condoleezza Rice, sent on a fool's errand and having to maintain the pretense that this is the proper response of the world's only superpower.

There are two other major contributing factors that are undermining American foreign policy at present. In the interests of brevity, I won’t discuss them, but I will mention them:

1) As Ayn Rand pointed out, Americans tend to be very naïve about the nature of evil and tend not to believe it is as bad as it sounds. This is illustrated by the attitude, “Sure the Iranians say ‘Death to America’, but its just talk, they don’t really mean it.”

2) There has been a disastrous confusion of “democracy” versus freedom based on governmentally-protected individual rights. By promoting the former, we are legitimizing the election of those who are dedicated to destroying the latter. How can we now oppose the presence of Hamas in the Palestinian Authority or Hizbullah in the Lebanese parliament since they were elected "democratically"?

We should be promoting free nations based on governmentally-protected individual rights -- not simply "democracy". A democracy voted Hitler into office and voted him total power -- and we know what happened then.

We can discuss the effects of these last two factors in another post -- this one has gotten long enough.

Posted by: Michael Smith at July 23, 2006 07:35 AM

I grok it, Michael.

Same argument I've made for about twenty years now - shucks, made by many, many others, too.

Peace process = shielding corrupt, evil regimes from the consequences of their actions and enabling them to reorganize, regroup, reinforce, and return for another aimless bloody whack at whoever they hate - actually, those people that the thugs and mullahs want hated. Again, and again, and still again.

European beauracrats have made a cottage industry of opposing a U.S. that overshadows them militarily and economically, and incidentally allowed them the luxury of checking out of providing their own national defense in favor of creating the EU nannystate.

Speaking just for myself, if I was a Dutchman or German or Frenchman, I'd be pretty bummed that my crushing tax burden was going toward establishing beachheads for the caliphate in my country and protecting the seats of Islamofascist power. Especially since the EU is rigged so heavily toward cutting the governed out of the governing process.

We've got people demonstrating for Hezbollah in American cities now. Wearing tshirts and carrying banners supporting the organization, and its goals. Caliphate, jihad, and always that martydom thing.

Cusp time.

Posted by: TmjUtah at July 23, 2006 09:38 AM

jdwill said:

"All of these actors have an intense interest in not having the US bestride the world as it could have at the end of WWII."

What is it you expect these "actors" to do if we attack Iran? Combined they do not have the military capability of coming to Iran and stopping us.

Yes, things have changed since WWII. In addition to the changes you noted, there is one more significant change. We now have a thousand times more combat power than we did in WWII and absolute military superiority over everyone (if we have the will to use it). Our potential foes (the actors you mentioned) are mostly stuck with 1950s and 1960s military technology.

As far as the world's reaction is concerned, here is the thing our politicians fail to grasp: the international coalition of appeasers and obstructionists -- led by France, Germany, Russia, the European Union and the UN -- are going to react to any use of American military power AS IF we ARE using overwhelming force. Trying limited, civilian-friendly war does not buy us anything whatsoever in terms of the approval of these appeasers.

Posted by: Michael Smith at July 23, 2006 09:59 AM

Michael Smith,

I’m working today and won’t have as much time to debate as I would like. If you have time to watch the C-Span item below, Martin Sieff makes some very interesting points on the decline of our power relative to the world since 1945.

All,

Maybe or maybe not OT:

A tour de force debate of political science and history. Peter Beinart, editor of TNR, fences with Martin Seiff of UPI. Peter is the young wizard who takes up a neo-neocon position that essentially says liberals can do better than the Bush Administration, but winds up often advocating the same types of actions as a William Kristol might have. Martin Sieff is the wise old man of realpolitik. They both have an amazing mastery of events around the globe and dart hither and yon as they debate the underlying question of promoting democracy and stability in the world today.

This is definitely worth an hour of time to view .

Posted by: jdwill at July 23, 2006 10:10 AM

Michael Smith,

Oh, and your post about the assault on Western Civ by academia resonates with me also.

Posted by: jdwill at July 23, 2006 10:29 AM

Louis Spelman:

Perhaps you can give this a read.

IF you don't have the time to do that, ask yourself what an Israeli use of nuclear weapons in southern Lebanon would do to Israel. Fallout goes somewhere, after all.

A lot depends on the size of the weapons employed, but thermal effects will probably be felt in Israel, too.

This is part of the reason why Iranian talk about using nukes on Israel to rescue the Palestinians cannot be taken seriously. In any nuclear attack on Israel, the majority of the world's Palestinians will be killed, as their cities burst into flame, their civilian infrastructure becomes unusable and things like disease and radiation poisoning begins killing the survivors.

In the case of Israel using nuclear weapons against Iran, consider that this wil send a clear message to all of Israel's neihbors that they'd best get the bomb, quick.

I know most people analyzing this are incapable of seeing things except in an Israel-Iran perspective (at least nowadays..back when Israel and Iran were tight, that wasn't even discussed..the idea that Israel and Iran might not be all that firendly even if the Palestinian and/or Islamic issues weren't around is not really discussed except in obscure publications), but Iran has neighbors like Pakistan (nuclear armed, mostly Sunni Musilm and rather known for aggessiveness), too. Their nuclear program is aimed at them as well as Israel.

Posted by: Nemo Ignotus at July 23, 2006 10:54 AM

I realize that some people can't get past the immediate present, and the thrill and adrenaline of warfare. But here's a great read:

http://www.beirutbeltway.com/beirutbeltway/2006/07/maybe_israel_is.html

I'd like to highlight a couple of comments:


Bolton, who was speaking to CNN this morning, is aware that such a force should not take over the responsibility of the Lebanese government, i.e. do its job. Yet Bolton, despite recognizing the importance of empowering the Lebanese armed forces and the Lebanese government, ignores that the other side of the conflict, the “modern and democratic” Israeli state, suffers from an addiction to violence.

This addiction makes it hard for any local group to translate opposition to groups such as Hizbullah into effective action. This addiction is destroying the government Bolton wants to empower. Mind you, all this talk about enabling the Lebanese army is empty talk, because the US and Israel would never allow it to acquire weapons or be strong enough to stand up to militias armed by foreign countries. This is a fact Bolton knows very well.

The latter part is very true. We're all assuming here that the Lebanese Army will be empowered. But I tend to agree with the author here that as long as the israeli-arab conflict is not PERMANENTLY resolved (including peace between Israel and Syria), there is no way Israel and the US will allow for a well equipped Lebanese Army (the assumption being that such an army remains, in theory potentially a threat to Israel).

How does one reconcile this with the notion that the US and Israel would like an empowered Lebanese Army to control the south?

Posted by: Bad Vilbel at July 23, 2006 11:29 AM

James Bond: Do you expect me to talk?
Auric Goldfinger: No, Mr. Bond. I expect you to die.

- Goldfinger (1964)

Posted by: Josh at July 23, 2006 12:47 PM

"I don’t want to get any messages saying, “I am holding my position.” We are not holding a Goddamned thing. Let the Germans do that. We are advancing constantly and we are not interested in holding onto anything, except the enemy’s balls. We are going to twist his balls and kick the living shit out of him all of the time. Our basic plan of operation is to advance and to keep on advancing regardless of whether we have to go over, under, or through the enemy.”

“From time to time there will be some complaints that we are pushing our people too hard. I don’t give a good Goddamn about such complaints. I believe in the old and sound rule that an ounce of sweat will save a gallon of blood. The harder we push, the more Germans we will kill. The more Germans we kill, the fewer of our men will be killed. Pushing means fewer casualties. I want you all to remember that.”

“There is only one tactical principle which is not subject to change. It is to use the means at hand to inflict the maximum amount of wound, death, and destruction on the enemy in the minimum amount of time.”

“Now I want you to remember that no bastard ever won a war by dying for his country. He won it by making the other poor dumb bastard die for his country."

george patton

Posted by: reliapundit at July 23, 2006 08:29 PM

The crux of the biscuit is that internationally-mediated, 'diplomatic' solutions are no solution at all. Diplomacy is not a language Hezbollah, Iran or Hamas speak. It is, to them, a tool for gaining advantage against Israel and the United States. That being said, there is no practicable solution to the asymmetric warfare problem save devastating brutality.

Arguments about how we'd be reducing ourselves to old man Osama's level by employing such tactics are moot. The moral problem here is this: kill or be killed. Lacking a viable alternative to killing your assailant, should you elect to be killed rather than stooping to attacker's moral level? It is absurd and clearly an impediment to the cause of our survival to affirm this course of action.

To deny that this is a 'kill or be killed' scenario, and to take the leap of faith that diplomacy will solve the conflict, you must not only be willing to stake your childrens' lives on your belief, but the lives of all children of the West. To me, such abounding idealism smacks of hubris. If you claim to be rational, use the first rule of science: WORK WITH THINGS THAT WORK (that comes from my freshman biology prof and may be somewhat apocryphal).

Until Israel finds a way to actually win - without resorting to unmitigated slaughter of those populations willing to house terrorist organizations - it will continue to lose its war, and eventually be destroyed. Israel has learned since Oslo of the cost of gambling its childrens' lives through diplomacy. It has learned that when the chips are down, international forces act as one-way sieves that will stop Israel, but not its attackers.

Life or death? Practical solution, or fantasy negotiations? Should we maintain the status quo until a viable alternative to brutality exists? If you think so, tell me how many Israelis have to die before Israel has a right to stop its people from being killed, once and for all? 100? 1000? 1 000 000?

Imagine maintaining the status quo, putting in an international force and putzing around for a couple years... Now imagine Iran getting nukes over this time. Hamas and Hezbollah will be able to freely permeate the international forces because the cost of stopping them will be nuclear escalation with Iran.

Put it all together, and what do you get? We need a Publius Cornelius Scipio, or a Scipio Aemilianus to win the survival of the west. What we don't need is narcissitic sophists telling us to commit suicide through countless errors of omission in going about our self-defense.

Ceterum Censeo, Iran Delenda Est

Posted by: derzorhistology at July 24, 2006 02:40 AM

Derzor- you're right. The jihadists ultimate drive the 'kill or be killed' dichotomy. It's easy to overlook this obvious fact. Whether it is evidenced by the kidnapping of an Israeli soldier or an Iranian A-bomb, Israel knows that the relentless bloodlust that is jihad will still be coming. In that sense, everything is defined by survival, even when a given situation is not, in itself, life-threatening.

Posted by: kreiz at July 24, 2006 04:32 AM

Bad Vilbel said and quoted:

“Mind you, all this talk about enabling the Lebanese army is empty talk, because the US and Israel would never allow it to acquire weapons or be strong enough to stand up to militias armed by foreign countries.

.......the “modern and democratic” Israeli state, suffers from an addiction to violence.”

Why is it that the US and Israel have the power to prevent the Lebanese army from acquiring weapons -- but cannot stop Hizbullah from acquiring weapons?

And why is it Israel that is “addicted to violence” and not the jihadists that have sworn to destroy her?

Where is the evidence supporting these assertions?

Posted by: Michael Smith at July 24, 2006 07:16 AM

Michael Smith,

Do i really need to explain this one to you?

Who supplies Israel's weapons? The US and the west.
Who supplies HA's weapons? Syria/Iran.

Who WOULD you have supply the Lebanese Army of a democratic state? Iran and Syria? Not likely. They don't want a strong Lebanese state. That leaves the west/USA. If the west/USA wants a strong Lebanese state, it will give Lebanon's Army the backing it needs (mind you, Lebanon is broke, so you can't SELL weapons to the Lebanese Army, we're talking donations here).

The US has the power to stop the Lebanese Army from aquiring weapons because the US (and the west at large) are the only channels for weapons for a legitimate government.
Not so with HA, who gets their weapons illictly from Syria/Iran, and that, despite various sanctions and embargos.

You see the difference?

As for the second quote. It wasn't mine. It was that of the article i posted. I thought there was SOME truth, or some valid points to the article at hand. I wouldn't agree with this particular line at face value, as you interpret it. I do think however, that the author does have a valid point: The jihadists ARE addicted to violence too (no one ever claimed otherwise, I don't think). But Israel's "response" for the past 30+ years has been of a real specific nature: Punish the civilian population (be it Gaza or Lebanon). I'm not talking here about the regular arab-israeli wars (those pre-date the days of jihadists who strike through terror).
Again, I am not arguing the RIGHT of Israel to defend itself. But what i am arguing is that they have tried the same technique over and over and over. And the results have NOT BEEN GOOD (last I checked, Gaza/West Bank is still a mess, after over 20 years of "surgical strikes", bulldozing homes, and whatever else). At what point do you go "Hmmm...This isn't working. Maybe we should try something different!" ???

And just because I am suggesting this method doesn't work does NOT mean i am pro-HA, or against Israel's right to defend itself. I'm just making an observation here, as someone watching from afar. I see a guy trying who has a rat problem in his barn, and who's been trying to get rid of the rats by using the same rat trap, for 30 years, and it hasn't worked, so far. So I have to wonder...At what point does he figure out he needs to go about catching the rats in a different way?

Posted by: Bad Vilbel at July 24, 2006 11:19 AM

"Who WOULD you have supply the Lebanese Army of a democratic state? ......If the west/USA wants a strong Lebanese state, it will give Lebanon's Army the backing it needs (mind you, Lebanon is broke, so you can't SELL weapons to the Lebanese Army, we're talking donations here)."

This is a completely different assertion. First you said that the US and Israel "would never allow the Lebanese army to acquire weapons", which implies that the Lebanese have the ability to do so but are thwarted by the US and Israel. Now you are saying that they cannot afford to purchase arms.

The first assertion places the blame for Lebanese weakness on the US and Israel. The second does not.

As far as Lebanon being broke, whose fault is that? Why are the US and Israel obligated to pay for their defense?

I do not buy the notion that Lebanon is powerless to stop Hizbullah. The Lebanese army has 75,000 troops and the following equipment:

700 US-made M-113 armored personnel carriers
100 US-made M-48 A1/A5 medium tanks
200 Soviet-made T-54/T-55 medium tanks
40 French-made AMX-13 light tanks

Why aren't Lebanese troops, armored personnel carriers and tanks attacking Hizbullah right now?

How many battles have been fought between the Lebanese Army and Hizbullah? None, as far as I know.

How many times has Lebanon gone to the UN demanding that Iran and Syria cease their support and arms shipments to Hizbullah? None.

How many times has the Lebanese government publicly denounced Hizbullah and demanded that they leave Lebanese soil? I have not heard a single such demand.

In fact, as near as I can tell, the Lebanese government hasn't lifted a finger to stop Hizbullah. Why not?

Where is the evidence that the Lebanese government is anything other than a willing accomplice of Hizbullah?

"But Israel's "response" for the past 30+ years has been of a real specific nature: Punish the civilian population (be it Gaza or Lebanon)........."

Israel has tried to trade land for peace (the disastrous Oslo accords and the recent withdrawal from Gaza), they have tried ARMING the Palestinian Authority so they could be strong enough to rein in the terrorists, they have tried targeted assassinations of the terrorists and their leaders, they have tried to create a buffer zone in southern Lebanon and they have tried building a wall to keep the terrorists out. (This last seems to have really cut down on the suicide bombings in Israel proper.) How on earth do you justify the accusation that Israel's sole response is to "punish the civilians"?

Posted by: Michael Smith at July 24, 2006 01:35 PM

Michael Smith,

You and I are clearly talking past each other. I'm sorry for that.

The Lebanese Army has not marched against Hezbollah for various reasons, ONE Of which being military inferiority. 70,000 troops or not, the army is STILL inferior due to the fact that hezbollah is a guerilla group hiding amongst civilians. Israel can afford to drop bombs from planes and take SOME civilian casualties. The Lebanese Army cannot. First off they don't have planes. Secondly, a foreign army killing civilians (even by mistake) is one thing. But how do you think the Lebanese civilians will take to their own army demolishing their villages? It's political suicide for the nascent Lebanese state to take on an internal conflict (yes, we're only ONE year old!!!! How well adjusted was Israel when it was ONE year old??? I bet they had some kinks to work out too at the time).

I understand Israel could not sit around and wait for the Lebanese democracy to work out all its kinks. And because of that, I can somewhat see the greater good that might come of this offensive. But let's not kid ourselves here. There is nothing much Lebanon could have done in the past year to disarm HA without starting a civil war. And a civil war in Lebanon is even LESS in the interests of Israel (imagine another Iraq north of the border, with Al-Qaeda and all sorts of other bad guys having free reign to attack Israel, on top of HA).

Posted by: bad vilbel at July 24, 2006 02:36 PM

Michael Smith,

I am essentially agreeing with and paraphrasing your points from a preceding post:

a. Lack of national will eroded by guilt trips laid on our culture (while glossing the faults of other cultures)
b. Class warfare and identity/victim politics
c. Self doubt extrapolated to others and leaders
d. The megaphone is on Vietnam 24×7 if we apply military force anywhere (point c specific)
e. Our campuses are organized against Israel to weaken us by denigrating our ally
f. Our permissive personal morality is reflected in our ambivalence toward external evil
(I do not subscribe to a particular doctrinaire Christian Right Morality, though I am at heart a Christian, I refer to our reduced ability to enforce our laws, honor personal contracts, demand basic civility of the public, etc.).

All of these point to something which has been troubling me for a while now. Is our Western Civilization committing suicide? Is it in terminal decline? One historian I am reading (among others) AJ Toynbee, shows various ways that this has happened to previous civilizations. It especially seems to happen when a creative minority that has sparked a civilization loses or degrades its internal attributes, becomes dormant, and merely continues to dominate the majority without meriting obedience. I feel this has happened to our elites for the many of the reasons you list. Whether to lay the blame on academia or the affluence that softens a people, or some combination of such factors is too large a topic for here.

But what I am driving at is that unless we can reestablish an elite that we can follow, we may not be able to wield the power that you think we have (though I would quibble about how much we actually have relative to our potential enemies). In short, we need more Henry Fords and less Ken Lays, more George Pattens and less Wesley Clarks – which may be cheap shots, but illustrate my point.

Now, you say:

What is it you expect these "actors" to do if we attack Iran? Combined they do not have the military capability of coming to Iran and stopping us.

I think I made the point about how they could drag us down in my previous post. I don’t see you addressing those points and I leave them to stand as is – they can deny or disrupt materials, labor, and markets that we need.

As to our increased combat power, how are you going to use it?

1. There are more critical areas under threat than we have manpower to address – see world pop.
2. Nemo Ignotus (a real name? – quite intriguing) made a post above that linked to a piece about Warrior Mentality that, while I didn’t completely agree with it, made the excellent point that our enemies have observed our amazing firepower and mobility and come up with strategies to nullify that advantage.
a. One such strategy is being used by Hezbollah right now (bribe or coerce, and embed with the civilian population that we are trying to save, not destroy)
b. Never massing, forgoing military victory to inflict enough pain to reduce will to fight (and now I am merely repeating, faintly, Callimachus’s excellent post at the top).

Even if your soul could make the Devils bargain to apply that ultimate power, though, the will to use it will not be there. Indeed, unless we work to revitalize our society the will to utilize our strength in more constructive and incremental ways to win this struggle may not be there.

I know you are shocked at the numbers that groveled after 9-11. Are you not shocked that some youth in our country have joined the Islamists? This “cali-ban” phenomenon has occurred repeatedly with educated middle class young men in various Western cities. Not all were originally Muslims, certainly not devout ones. I submit that these young men may not be complete aberrations but a symptom of loss of faith in our Western civilizations ability to lead, to meet their need for meaningful existence.

Posted by: jdwill at July 24, 2006 05:48 PM

Michael Smith,

I am essentially agreeing with and paraphrasing your points from a preceding post:

a. Lack of national will eroded by guilt trips laid on our culture (while glossing the faults of other cultures)
b. Class warfare and identity/victim politics
c. Self doubt extrapolated to others and leaders
d. The megaphone is on Vietnam 24×7 if we apply military force anywhere (point c specific)
e. Our campuses are organized against Israel to weaken us by denigrating our ally
f. Our permissive personal morality is reflected in our ambivalence toward external evil
(I do not subscribe to a particular doctrinaire Christian Right Morality, though I am at heart a Christian, I refer to our reduced ability to enforce our laws, honor personal contracts, demand basic civility of the public, etc.).

All of these point to something which has been troubling me for a while now. Is our Western Civilization committing suicide? Is it in terminal decline? One historian I am reading (among others) AJ Toynbee, shows various ways that this has happened to previous civilizations. It especially seems to happen when a creative minority that has sparked a civilization loses or degrades its internal attributes, becomes dormant, and merely continues to dominate the majority without meriting obedience. I feel this has happened to our elites for the many of the reasons you list. Whether to lay the blame on academia or the affluence that softens a people, or some combination of such factors is too large a topic for here.

But what I am driving at is that unless we can reestablish an elite that we can follow, we may not be able to wield the power that you think we have (though I would quibble about how much we actually have relative to our potential enemies). In short, we need more Henry Fords and less Ken Lays, more George Pattens and less Wesley Clarks – which may be cheap shots, but illustrate my point.

Now, you say:

What is it you expect these "actors" to do if we attack Iran? Combined they do not have the military capability of coming to Iran and stopping us.

I think I made the point about how they could drag us down in my previous post. I don’t see you addressing those points and I leave them to stand as is – they can deny or disrupt materials, labor, and markets that we need.

As to our increased combat power, how are you going to use it?

1. There are more critical areas under threat than we have manpower to address – see world pop.
2. Nemo Ignotus (a real name? – quite intriguing) made a post above that linked to a piece about Warrior Mentality that, while I didn’t completely agree with it, made the excellent point that our enemies have observed our amazing firepower and mobility and come up with strategies to nullify that advantage.
a. One such strategy is being used by Hezbollah right now (bribe or coerce, and embed with the civilian population that we are trying to save, not destroy)
b. Never massing, forgoing military victory to inflict enough pain to reduce will to fight (and now I am merely repeating, faintly, Callimachus’s excellent post at the top).

Even if your soul could make the Devils bargain to apply that ultimate power, though, the will to use it will not be there. Indeed, unless we work to revitalize our society the will to utilize our strength in more constructive and incremental ways to win this struggle may not be there.

I know you are shocked at the numbers that groveled after 9-11. Are you not shocked that some youth in our country have joined the Islamists? This “cali-ban” phenomenon has occurred repeatedly with educated middle class young men in various Western cities. Not all were originally Muslims, certainly not devout ones. I submit that these young men may not be complete aberrations but a symptom of loss of faith in our Western civilizations ability to lead, to meet their need for meaningful existence.

Posted by: jdwill at July 24, 2006 05:55 PM

Sorry for double post, had posting hang up while poll was apparently being put up.

Posted by: jdwill at July 24, 2006 05:58 PM

That history may have been what Osama bin Laden had in mind when he said, three months after 9/11: "When people see a strong horse and a weak horse, by nature they will like the strong horse." Indeed, one of the principle arguments made for American military action in Afghanistan and in Iraq was that the U.S. had to prove by direct action that America was not a weak horse, that al Qaeda and its allies were misreading America's resolve. If that's true, that Beirut bombing of 20 years ago may have been where that miscalculation began.

No. It did not begin in 1983.

It was the occupation of the American embassy in 1979, and the subsequent lack of decisive response on the part of the United States. That's when the militant muslims decided America was a paper tiger, the non-response to the Beirut barracks bombing in '83 confirmed it. The message was reinforced in the 90s, with the Khobar towers bombing, the pullout from Mogadishu, and several other events that everyone here likely remembers.

Now we are paying for those errors.

It is interesting that some of the former hostages claim Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was one of the 'students' who occupied the embassy.

-----

ps to jdwill: my preference is for a), but I am not willing to sacrifice even one city in the US or an ally's territory to achieve it- our soldiers may die, but any attacks on our civilians should- and must, as perceived weakness invites further attacks-invite devastating retaliation.

This is the basic flaw of 'proportional response'- devastating retaliation is necessary for deterrence to be credible, and therefore viable, but a devastating response is inherently non-proportionate.

Either deterrence is a flawed strategy, or proportional response is. I believe it to be the latter.

-----

ps to BV: - Israel occupies a 20 mile buffer zone or thereabouts, pushing the islamofascits out of range.

...until the islamofascists acquire longer-range rockets. What then?

I'm sorry to say it, but a buffer zone would just delay matters. With Hizbullah's Iranian patron on the verge of becoming a nuclear power, delay favors Hizbullah, decisive action now favors Israel.

-----

ps to Jeff: The radical Muslims get so brutal with their own populations that they lose these wars in the long run. They lose them as in Iran, through conquering and proving their own vicious ineptitude, turning their population pro-Western. Or they lose them by ratcheting up the brutality to the point at which the population turns against them and to the government for protection.

In what nation have these radical muslims in fact lost their own populations? The taliban was in no danger of being overthrown by the brutally-repressed Afghan people. The Iranians who live in urban areas may feel generally pro-western, but the Mullahs are not about to be overthrown, and this supposed sympathy has resulted in no material benefits to the west with regards to either Iranian support for terrorist organizations such as Hizbullah, or the Iranian nuclear weapons program. The Sudanese are far from being capable of overthrowing their janjaweed-militia supporting thugs. And the Somalis are unlikely to overthrow the Islamic Court radical militants who recently seized control of Mogdishu.

The lesson I draw from these events is that once brutal radical muslims gain control of a country, they remain in control of a country until some outside force disposes of them.

-----

ps to Michael Smith: Having said that, I do not believe either the costs or complications would be severe. Iran accounts for only about 6% of the world's crude oil exports -- so interrupting that would not be a major problem.

The problem is not Iran's exports, but it's strategic position on the Strait of Hormuz, which is the route taken by Kuwait, Iraq, Bahrain, and much of Saudi Arabia's oil production. Iran is definitely capable of rendering the strait such a hazard zone that no captain of an oil tanker would be willing to come within 100 miles of the Persian Gulf. That is what people are referring to when they say taking action against Iran would seriously disrupt global oil supplies, and the President of Iran has very clearly stated that Iran is both willing and able to do it.

Posted by: rosignol at July 25, 2006 01:57 AM

...since this seems to be the thread to discuss stuff in the NYT:

from

http://www.nytimes.com/2006/07/23/world/middleeast/23cnd-mideast.html?pagewanted=1&_r=3

[...]

"The deaths brought the toll to at least 380, Lebanese authorities said. Lebanon does not differentiate between civilian deaths and the deaths of Hezbollah fighters."

[...]

This seems quite pertinent with regards to the recent discussion about the consequences of military action to the civilian population.

Posted by: rosignol at July 25, 2006 05:10 AM

Rosignol:
Iran is definitely capable of rendering the strait such a hazard zone that no captain of an oil tanker would be willing to come within 100 miles of the Persian Gulf. That is what people are referring to when they say taking action against Iran would seriously disrupt global oil supplies, and the President of Iran has very clearly stated that Iran is both willing and able to do it.
*************************

December 8th, 1941, The White House

President Roosevelt: Those murderous bastards! The Japs will burn in hell for what they did at Pearl Harbor! Draft a declaration of war against the Empire of Japan! I want it presented to Congress at once!!

Advisor: Uh, well, Mr. President, that would not be a good idea. Sir, I know you are upset, but I warned you the oil embargo you imposed on Japan would backfire -- and it did. A declaration of war against Japan will backfire even worse.

Sir, the Japanese Imperial Fleet can close all the sea lanes of supply to the far east if they wish. What we have left in the Pacific after the attack on Pearl Harbor is no match for their forces. Their surface fleet and their submarines can sink merchant shipping at will. They can stop us from re-supplying McArthur’s forces in the Philippines. Our guys will be completely cutoff!!

Sir, just think of the supply lines involved in trying to mount an attack on Japan! It’s five thousand miles across the Pacific! How embarrassing will it be to declare war and then do nothing against Japan for months or years?

President Roosevelt: But they have to pay for what they’ve done!! The American people expect action!!

Advisor: And the supply lines are not the only thing to consider, Mr. President. We’ve seen what the Japanese military can do. Right now, most of the Japanese population is opposed to the militarists that are running the show; the militarist party only won 20% of the vote in the last Japanese election. That other 80% are our potential allies. A declaration of war will change that -- it will solidify the Japanese people firmly behind the militarists. That will strengthen the militarist’s hand and make them even more determined to win! A Declaration of War will simply invite another attack! It will play right into their hands!

President Roosevelt: You really think so? I hadn’t considered that……

Advisor: Sir, consider this: if we declare war -- and thereby embolden and unify the Japs -- what’s to stop Japan from invading the west coast? The Japanese Imperial Army is huge, they are battle hardened veterans from years of war in China. In fact, they have never been stopped.

On the other hand, our boys have never fired a shot in anger, we’d be no match for them! You saw what the Japanese Army did in the Rape of Nanking; you want them doing that in Los Angeles? We can’t risk it, and THAT is what you have to make the country understand.

President Roosevelt: But goddamnit, we gotta do something!

Advisor: Sir, the Japanese ambassador has said repeatedly that all they want is to be left alone in the far east to develop their Far East Co-Prosperity Sphere . Why not let them do it? What’s Indochina to us? Why risk a war we are not at all likely to win?

And don’t forget our obligations to England. Sir, you promised Mr. Churchill the full support of the United States in his war against the Nazis. We cannot divide our resources into two separate war efforts. We can’t fight a two-front war! We just don’t have the resources.

Whereas, if we are smart and patient, the Japanese people will eventually tire of the burden of supporting their military and they’ll force the militants out of the government. That whole Co-Prosperity thing will fade away. You will go down in history as the President that avoided a foolish and catastrophic war.

President Roosevelt: Sigh……all right, call the Japanese Ambassador in, we’ll have a chat.

December 11th, 1941, The White House

President Roosevelt: Yes, yes, what is it now?

Advisor: Sir, it’s a good thing you decided to wait on the declaration of war against Japan. The Germans just formally declared war on the United States.

President Roosevelt: Fine. If that Nazi bastard wants war, let’s give him one. Draft a declaration of war against Germany.

Advisor: Sir, there is a problem. English intelligence is reporting that the Germans have flooded the North Atlantic with U-Boats deployed in what the Germans call “Wolf-Packs”. They can close the Atlantic. If we try to send troop ships over there to fight the Germans, even if some get through, how will we re-supply?

Sir, the North Atlantic is treacherous and deadly in the winter. Maybe by springtime……..

President Roosevelt: I surrender………………….

**************************************************************

One can always come up with reasons for backing down from threats.

The fact is the United States military is fully capable of destroying Iran’s navy and any coastal sites that may fire missiles at supertankers. We can turn the Iranian coastline into a wasteland within a few days.

In addition, our Aegis-equipped destroyers have phased array, radar-guided anti-missile missiles (the SM-2) and the Phoenix Close-In Weapons System (CIWS) -- both of which are designed to defend against anti-ship missiles. These could act as pickets for the supertankers.

The question is not whether or not we have the ability to stop Iran and keep the straights open. We clearly do. What we lack is the will.

Posted by: Michael Smith at July 25, 2006 06:44 AM

The fact is the United States military is fully capable of destroying Iran’s navy and any coastal sites that may fire missiles at supertankers. We can turn the Iranian coastline into a wasteland within a few days.

...just so long as we're clear that we would need to turn the Iranian coastline into a wasteland to do this. The missiles can be launched off of trucks- which are numerous and easy to conceal- and I expect the Iranian stockpile of such weapons is orders of magnitude larger than Hizbullah's.

This does not mean it cannot be done, just that it would be a significant undertaking.

In addition, our Aegis-equipped destroyers have phased array, radar-guided anti-missile missiles (the SM-2) and the Phoenix Close-In Weapons System (CIWS) -- both of which are designed to defend against anti-ship missiles. These could act as pickets for the supertankers.

I'm not familiar with Phoenix, but the old Phalanx CIWS had about 10 seconds worth of ammunition before needing to be reloaded. The replacement system (Sea RAM) uses missiles instead of guns... but each pack only has 11 projectiles- if the adversary shoots 12 missiles at you, at least one will get through. The Iranians know this, and I expect that if they take a shot at a USN ship (and the tanker it's escorting), they're going to fire more than 11 missiles at it.

The question is not whether or not we have the ability to stop Iran and keep the straights open. We clearly do. What we lack is the will.

I'm not actually worried about this in the long term. Once a nuke goes off in a western city, we will find the will to destroy the threat and then some.

What is depressing is that I think it is unlikely that we will not find the will before it happens. It would be better, for both us and them, to solve the problem before it comes to that.... but as you mentioned, we lack the will.

Posted by: rosignol at July 25, 2006 07:28 AM

Michael Smith,

Even if we found the will, I still disagree that we have the means to prosecute such a war without causing world wide suffering that will exceed the casualty lists rung up by Hitler, Mao, Polpot, and Stalin by an order of magnitude.

Its just a bad idea, when we could instead firmly apply pressure and let the Islamofacist threat burn itself out. Sign of this are already showing in Iraq and elsewhere. Check Iraq the Model for one example. If we stand strong, Muslims will eventually get tired of being blown up by fanatics. The last ones to surrender (if they ever do) will be our own infantile left - that never suffer the consequences of their bad ideas.

Out biggest problem is at home, we need to fight and win a war of ideas here.

Posted by: jdwill at July 25, 2006 08:03 AM

Jdwill said:
"I think I made the point about how they could drag us down in my previous post. I don’t see you addressing those points and I leave them to stand as is – they can deny or disrupt materials, labor, and markets that we need.

and:

Even if we found the will, I still disagree that we have the means to prosecute such a war without causing world wide suffering that will exceed the casualty lists rung up by Hitler, Mao, Polpot, and Stalin by an order of magnitude."

I don’t understand. Do you sincerely believe that “denying or disrupting materials, labor, and markets that we need" is going to kill hundreds of millions of human beings? That is what an “order of magnitude” increase in casualties versus that group of dictators would amount to. Could you please explain exactly what you think will happen to cause such a thing?

Any interruption of trade is going to hurt the other nations more than the U.S. We are running substantial trade deficits with all the countries you mentioned in your earlier post.

For instance, China exported $243.5 billion to the United States in 2005 and imported $41.9 billion. So they are receiving a net of over $200 billion a year in hard currency from us. You think they would surrender that to protect Iran?

Here are the others for 2005:

India: Exports to US exceed imports from US by $10.9 billion.

Russia: Exports to US exceeded imports from US by $11.3 billion.

Pakistan: Exports to US exceeded imports from US by $2.3 billion.

Overall, we are running (for 2005) a next trade deficit of $726.5 billion dollars.

Total U.S. exports to those countries amounts to 4.4% of total U.S. gross domestic product. If you completely erase that, it will put some Americans out of work, but it is going to put a hell of a lot more Chinese, Indians, Russians and Pakistanis out of work. The fact is, the world needs the American economy more than we need the world's.

Posted by: Michael Smith at July 25, 2006 09:20 AM

"Its just a bad idea, when we could instead firmly apply pressure and let the Islamofacist threat burn itself out. Sign of this are already showing in Iraq and elsewhere."

The Islamic Republic of Iran was founded in 1979. Today, 27 years later, it is stronger than ever, pulling in vast amounts of petro-dollars. It isn't getting weaker -- militarily, it is getting stronger.

Posted by: Michael Smith at July 25, 2006 09:33 AM

Boy did this thread go off on a tangent :)

Rosignol:

I didn't say things would end with creating a buffer zone. Obviously that in and of itself does not solve the long term issues here. As you pointed out, it would be a mere reprieve until HA gets longer range missiles.

If you re-read my initial statement, i suggested a more comprehensive "package" which would include the disarming of HA and strengthening of the Lebanese Army and state to exert full control over it's territory, thus preventing any terrorists from operating from our land.

The idea of a buffer zone (which apparently, everyone now seems to be suggesting too) is the FIRST STEP. No more. It's a way in which to end the current hostilities without a cease-fire favoring HA. You remove them from the border area. You bring in an international force (since the Lebanese Army is not strong enough to tackle HA, nor is it politically capable of doing so without risking civil war). You spend the next year or so massively strengthening the Lebanese Army all the while disarming HA once and for all (and that will be the hardest part).

Posted by: Bad Vilbel at July 25, 2006 09:56 AM

Michael Smith,

This thread has aged a bit, so I will leave with this, and as Bill O’Reilly says, you can have the last word if you care to.

You said: ”I don’t understand. Do you sincerely believe that “denying or disrupting materials, labor, and markets that we need" is going to kill hundreds of millions of human beings? That is what an “order of magnitude” increase in casualties versus that group of dictators would amount to. Could you please explain exactly what you think will happen to cause such a thing?”

Sure. First, I perceive you are doing a fine job of denouncing what is being done (or not done) - ” I feel so sorry for Condoleezza Rice, sent on a fool's errand and having to maintain the pretense that this is the proper response of the world's only superpower.” but you aren’t proposing too many specifics as to possible alternatives.

“What would the full Monty look like? Just like WWII: An American juggernaut righteously annihilating the greatest existential threat to western civilization.”

You don’t specify any specific overall strategy or even name the actors you would fight - ”As far as the specifics of the military action we need to take, I would leave that up to the military.” - so I am left to assume a full regional war involving at least Iran, Syria, and probably Pakistan, since these are the main actors aligned against us (with SA being the inert king on the chessboard).

”Any interruption of trade is going to hurt the other nations more than the U.S. We are running substantial trade deficits with all the countries you mentioned in your earlier post.”

True. But.

1. There is a pretty good discussion of OIL problem potential here (scroll down to Geopolitical risks) alternatively you can use this link
2. Watch the news for signals from Saudi Arabia to the US in the next 10 days or so. The chain is about to be yanked and then Israel will be called off. Handholding only gets you so far.
3. Because the oil production/usage cycle is so tight, it doesn’t take a huge dip in supply to shock the world economy. Did you happen to watch the world market during the Katrina episode?

My analogy of the knife fight in a crowded lifeboat is appropriate, I think. There are players that talk across the table and regulate what the game can and can’t do.

The most crucial factor is oil, although we could be hamstrung in other ways such as LNG . But it is not just America that I am considering. We are resilient enough to withstand one shock such as Katrina, and maybe two, but the third world has largely moved off the land since 1945 (as we did since 1865) to begin industrializing and is much more vulnerable to energy prices and the resultant effect on food prices and its availability via transportation.

Even mild shocks such as the post 9-11 GWOT has caused have caused quite a lot of stress on these populations, though we don’t see that much focus on it because our news media emulates the behavior of a flock of starlings. They tend to flit en masse from one thing to another and seem incapable of addressing more a few stories at time. Big stories like the Green Revolution don’t get much play, but the world population spike is riding on it and the Green Revolution rides on oil. Wiki - “This has raised concerns that a significant decrease in world oil and gas production, and the corresponding price increases, could plunge billions into hunger.”

What I really fear is that a full out war would disrupt the world energy economy enough that transportation breakdown, resultant food shortages, and failures of sanitation infrastructure would cause phenomenal human tolls. Picture cities with multi-million populations unable to maintain basic services or food supply because of a war that shutdown the Middle East.

The prime reason that any sane American leadership will not do the war you prescribe is that any combination of two major producers, by refusing to produce as bargaining weapon, could shut down enough of the world oil economy to cause an economic shock that could trigger a collapse like the Great Depression. Worse, some whackjob like Amenidijad could destroy enough production infrastructures to cause the effect longer term, and thereby really ensure chaos.

Do you want to go down in history as the nation that brought on famine and epidemics that reduced 30% of a global 6BB population? There is your order of magnitude. I shouldn’t have to tell a warrior like you that of the four horsemen, which of them have claimed the most lives in wars past.

The Islamic Republic of Iran was founded in 1979. Today, 27 years later, it is stronger than ever, pulling in vast amounts of petro-dollars. It isn't getting weaker -- militarily, it is getting stronger.

True. But the 6BB human question we face is how to defuse it, defang it, or contain it. If you and George (Patton or Bush) want to crank up the tanks, count me out. If you want to work intelligently to deal with it, I’m definitely on your side.

Posted by: jdwill at July 25, 2006 07:50 PM

True. But the 6BB human question we face is how to defuse it, defang it, or contain it. If you and George (Patton or Bush) want to crank up the tanks, count me out. If you want to work intelligently to deal with it, I’m definitely on your side.

Who do you think the US government has the greater obligation to protect, US citizens, or all humanity?

Posted by: rosignol at July 26, 2006 02:25 AM

The idea of a buffer zone (which apparently, everyone now seems to be suggesting too) is the FIRST STEP. No more. It's a way in which to end the current hostilities without a cease-fire favoring HA. You remove them from the border area.

At this point, a ceasefire favors Hizbullah. All it would accomplish is giving them time to rearm and regoup, and we'd have the exact same problem 3-4 years from now- expect that Hizbullah's Iranian patron will be a nuclear power.

No, thanks. If there's going to be a war to destroy Hizbullah, it is better for Israel if they fight it now than to fight it in 3-4 years.

You bring in an international force (since the Lebanese Army is not strong enough to tackle HA, nor is it politically capable of doing so without risking civil war).

Like the UN force that's on the Israel/Lebanon border now? Yeah, that did a lot of good...

That's not going to solve anything, it just buys Hizbullah, Syria, and Iran time. No thanks.

You spend the next year or so massively strengthening the Lebanese Army all the while disarming HA once and for all (and that will be the hardest part).

I don't think the Lebanese Army is either willing or able to disarm Hizbullah, and I don't think that is going to change this decade. Either the Israelis destroy Hizbullah, or Hizbullah will survive.

That's all there is to it.

Posted by: rosignol at July 26, 2006 02:36 AM

Who do you think the US government has the greater obligation to protect, US citizens, or all humanity?

I don’t accept that as an either or question. The theme I have been working on throughout this thread is that the nature of war has perforce changed (due to its consumption and potential disruption of a critical resource) and that a WWII-like slugfest is not possible without unacceptable loss of life worldwide or loss of economic momentum for that matter.

When a global consensus of enough power players is reached, a Desert Storm like operation may be sanctioned against Iran. IMO It really is like fighting in a crowded lifeboat, you have to keep an overall balance. OTOH Iran may get nukes and join the club as unfathomable as that may seem now.

I didn’t have as clear a view of this point when I started in this thread as I do now. Working thru supporting material for the argument with M Smith clarified this for me.

Posted by: jdwill at July 26, 2006 04:16 AM

Hello,

If you don't mind, I translated this article to my native Hungarian:

http://cikkek.soti.ca/why-democracies-lose-small-wars.html

Vilmos

Posted by: Vilmos Soti at July 26, 2006 09:24 PM

Jdwill said:
"The theme I have been working on throughout this thread is that the nature of war has perforce changed (due to its consumption and potential disruption of a critical resource) and that a WWII-like slugfest is not possible without unacceptable loss of life worldwide or loss of economic momentum for that matter."

You have advanced a “theme“ -- but based on what? I have read nothing in any of your posts that supports this doomsday scenario of economic melt-down and mass starvation resulting from an American attack on Iran. You have provided nothing except the vague suggestion that the increase in global population has increased the risk of mass starvation.

It appears to me that you are simply opposed to the idea of American victory and are determined to invent a reason why America cannot fight the way it must to win. But, in fact, your mass-starvation scenario is a “sky is falling!!” house of cards based on unsupported assumptions.

Assumption 1: You start with the claim that the top oil producers will shut down to protest an attack on Iran -- but you have given us no reason why such a thing would occur. The top two producers of oil are Saudi Arabia and Russia. They supply about 9.5% of the crude oil the U.S. consumes. They both vehemently opposed our invasion of Iraq -- at least publicly -- yet neither made the slightest move against us.

In fact, no oil producer has made a move against us during the three year long Iraq war, because they need the revenues just as badly as we need the oil. In short, you have given us no reason to support the notion that they would cut us off.

The Arabs tried cutting off the oil supply to bring the west to its knees in 1973, to punish us for our support of Israel in the Yom Kippur war. It backfired on them. The resulting rise in the price of oil simply spurred new exploration all over the world and conversion to other forms of energy, such as natural gas. (It also spurred an increase in the energy efficiency of everything from automobile gas mileage to household insulation -- but that is another story.) OPEC members saw their market share rapidly decline, and ended the embargo in May of 1974. An oversupply condition eventually developed (don‘t you just love it) which led to a crash in oil prices in the early 1980s.

Incidentally, we have enough oil in the Strategic Petroleum Reserve to replace everything we import from Saudi Arabia and Russia for a year.

Today, the world oil market is more competitive than ever. A supplier that cuts off a consumer is cutting his own throat. This leads us to your next assumption.

Assumption 2: You assume that any interruption of oil supply will lead to economic melt-down triggering mass starvation. Well, yes, if 50% of the world’s oil supply disappeared overnight, there would be a depression. But the world’s oil supply is more diversified than ever. Oil comes from hundreds of suppliers spread across dozens of nations. Here are the top producers for 2005 in millions of barrels per day (mb/d):

1. Saudi Arabia 10.4 mb/d
2. Russia 9.3 mb/d
3. USA 8.7 mb/d
4. Iran 4.1 mb/d
5. Mexico 3.8 mb/d
6. China 3.6 mb/d
7. Norway 3.2 mb/d
8. Canada 3.1 mb/d
9. Venezuela 2.9 mb/d
10. United Arab Emirates 2.8 mb/d
11. Kuwait 2.5 mb/d
12. Nigeria 2.5 mb/d
13. United Kingdom 2.1 mb/d
14. Iraq 2.0 mb/d
15. Other FSU 1.9 mb/d
16. Algeria 1.7 mb/d
17. Brazil 1.5 mb/d
18. Libya 1.5 mb/d
19. Indonesia 1.1 mb/d
20. Angola 0.9 mb/d

You seem to proceed from the notion that a small number of producers have the world by the throat. As you can see from this list, that is not the case. There is simply nothing to suggest a huge loss of production.

Nor does history support the notion that interruptions in supply cause starvation.

The embargo of 1973 caused recessions in the US and Europe. But nobody starved.

In 1980, the war between Iran and Iraq took 10% of the world oil supply off the market overnight. Nobody starved.

The price of crude oil has tripled over the last 4 years. No recession, no depression. Nobody has starved.

Assumption 3: You assume that the increase in global population somehow makes the world economic system less stable and increases the risk of mass starvation. But why would that be the case?

You are ignoring the fact that the increase in global population has been accompanied by -- indeed has been exceeded by -- a vast increase in the economic output of virtually everything, including food and oil. The global economy is now far more diversified and far less dependent on any one commodity or supplier or group of suppliers than ever before. Consumers and producers have many more sources of supply and markets than ever before. That makes the system MORE stable, not less. You act as if all economies of the world are running at subsistence levels, such that the loss of even a small amount of production would push billions into starvation. In fact the opposite is true.

I see nothing to support any of these assumptions or the "theme" which rests on them.

Posted by: Michael Smith at July 27, 2006 07:29 AM

I wasn’t going to continue this argument, but I am studying this issue for my own benefit and simply want to share what I am finding out.

Michael Smith said:

I have read nothing in any of your posts that supports this doomsday scenario of economic melt-down and mass starvation resulting from an American attack on Iran.

Well, I have provided links for each assertion I have made or each question I raised. In any case, the basic idea that there are limiting factors on the possible size of a conflict – “the full Monty” still intrigues me. In other words, I am exploring the possibility that the global energy economy could not support a world war with the level of intensity of WWII.

I am certainly not privy to the counsels of the Western governments, but I have a suspicion that this limiting factor constrains the actions of the West and may help to explain the slowness of the march on Iran, given the supposed unacceptability of them acquiring nuclear weapons.

This idea has nothing to do with what I wish for, especially since that is a speedy solution to the problem of Iran’s mad mullah theocracy. The question I am exploring is whether or not we can actually have the solution of “Just like WWII: An American juggernaut righteously annihilating the greatest existential threat to western civilization.”.

You could say that the disagreement is a matter of degree. You allow for a serious problem at 50%, I am guessing that 10% or even less might be a threshold where real global problems could result.

You raise some valid arguments about my ‘assumptions’.

Assumption 1: “top oil producers will shut down to protest an attack on Iran -- but you have given us no reason why such a thing would occur.”

Granted, the 1973 embargo failed and the ensuing glut made the market argument, but this doesn’t allow for the steadily increasing consumption by China and India. All of your counter examples are 1980 or prior. Material I am reading indicates that there was more production buffer then. I agree that technology will continue to shift the parameters of the problem, but the issue I am addressing is a downward spike that happens too quickly for the market or technology to react.

More importantly, this is only part of the scenario I posed; the other possibility was destruction of production from attacks. This was noted in the links I provided earlier and addressed by another poster.

Assumption 2: “any interruption of oil supply will lead to economic melt-down triggering mass starvation. Well, yes, if 50% of the world’s oil supply disappeared overnight, there would be a depression.”

Well, that is the question. I still think there is in fact a risk of global depression or starvation at a much more marginal threshold than 50%. You correctly point out that a 10% disruption occurred (for a shorter period) during the 1980-1988 Iran Iraq war. I believe that 10% now could be catastrophic.

Assumption 3: ”You assume that the increase in global population somehow makes the world economic system less stable and increases the risk of mass starvation. But why would that be the case?

This boils down to the same thing as (2), really.

Many of your arguments seem sound and hit the right notes about markets and real politic. You correctly point out how past conflagrations and boycotts have been worked out. What is most telling is that Iran did not openly disrupt the energy market during the actions in Afghanistan and Iraq after 9-11. I think this supports my “knife fight in a lifeboat” analogy. We were hot after 9-11 and there was an expectation that we would “do something”. But what if Iran does repeat its attacks on shipping in the Gulf as it did in the 1980’s (with vastly improved missile technology)? Iran is very much on the line with Hezbollah’s action in Lebanon. If Hezbollah loses, or Syria gets drawn in, Iran will have its back against the wall.

My search for an answer leads me to the nexus of these factors:

A. Rapid increase in demand since 1989 due to Chinese and Indian consumers coming up
B. The question of Peak Oil and a flattening of the growth rate of production
C. Increased dependence of the food chain on oil via transportation and mechanization

I am not a starry eyed environmentalist. I believe that the market and technology can solve the energy problems we face. Given time.

But:

You point to the tripling of crude price. The Wikipedia link below shows that this cost pressure is already causing severe problems (rationing) in the third world. This pressure is added to by uncertainty and to the fact that Iraq production is not where it should be. All the data I can find says there is less that 1-2% of stretch production capacity.

If a scenario similar to the 1980’s attacks on oil shipping occurred, this buffer could be overrun, also note that the table I supply seems to show that neither SA or Russia (the biggest producers) are that dependent on our market, so an arm twisting boycott is not out of the question for short term.

I’m not going to write a thesis here (ed. yeah right). You can follow the links if you choose. The case that demand vs. production is tight makes itself. The case for food being vulnerable to the oil market is there if only you look.

As already stated, the three main purposes for which oil is used worldwide are food, transport and heating. Agriculture is almost entirely dependent on reliable supplies of oil for cultivation and for pumping water, and on gas for its fertilizers; in addition, for every calorie of energy used by agriculture itself, five more are used for processing, storage and distribution.

Wiki on 2004-2006 oil price increases

This source, Dick Gibson , is a cautionary tale in web site design, but if you look past that, there is a wealth of accessible information, factoids, and links to standard DOE and other sites to back it up.
Other pages as navigation is tricky: Page 2 , Page 3 , Page 4

Dick Gibson: By way of background, in the late 1990s I really thought the "peak oil" people were crazy, or at least "doomsayers" and pessimists. Oil exploration people (like me) tend to be optimistic - you have to be, since you fail so often. But in the past 5 to 7 years, I've come to feel, largely through creating this compilation, that the "peak oil" people are a lot closer to right than are the "sweetness-and-light-and-nothing-is-really-wrong" crowd.

Check the table at bottom of this page
The top two:
Country ______ Net Oil Exports ____ U.S. Imports ___Reliance on U.S. Market
Saudi Arabia __ 8.7 _______________1.27 __________ 15%
Russia _______ 6.6 _______________ 0.047 _________ EVERY DAY, the US consumes enough oil to cover a football field with a column of oil 2500 feet tall. That's 121 million cubic feet.

Visualize that. Gulp, gulp, gulp – eventually, its gone.

And let's not forget that 52% of the US's electricity is still generated by burning coal. The rest of our electricity (January 2005) is produced by nuclear plants (20%), burning natural gas (15%), burning oil (3%), hydropower (7%), and other such as burning wood, geothermal, solar, wind, and miscellaneous (2%). In contrast to US usage, France obtains about 75% of its electricity supply from nuclear energy sources.

This shows that we’ve intensified oils usage in transportation, industrial and agricultural.

Refinery capacity in the US is near its maximum. Hurricanes Katrina and Rita impacted some refineries. Even before Katrina, average refinery capacity was less than US gasoline consumption. Oil tanker capacity for trans-oceanic shipping is also 100% reserved for the forseeable future, and shipping costs have nearly tripled.

How much do you think it would take to create a panic? Granted, the US, by conserving and rationing could ameliorate a crunch, but how long would that play? That is just another argument for why the leaders of the West will not risk a big war.

My argument is that it’s tight.
The Powers That Be are afraid to rock the boat.
The Third World is already in trouble.

Am I Chicken Little?

Richard Heinberg:
In sum, the transition to a fossil-fuel-free food system does not constitute a utopian proposal. It is an immense challenge and will call for unprecedented levels of creativity at all levels of society. But in the end it is the only rational option for averting human calamity on a scale never before seen.

I don’t think so. I don’t know if these people 100% right about every detail. But I am really sure that the statement

” The global economy is now far more diversified and far less dependent on any one commodity or supplier or group of suppliers than ever before.”

is just spectacularly and breathtakingly wrong for the commodity of oil.

Posted by: jdwill at July 28, 2006 07:48 PM

A LT character ate some of the post, it should have been ...

Check the table at bottom of this page
The top two:
Country ______ Net Oil Exports ____ U.S. Imports ___Reliance on U.S. Market
Saudi Arabia __ 8.7 _______________1.27 __________ 15%
Russia _______ 6.6 _______________ 0.047 _________ (LT)1%

Who’s afraid to mess with Texas? Your call.

Some more fun oil facts from the Gibson site:

EVERY DAY, the US consumes enough oil to cover a football field with a column of oil 2500 feet tall. That's 121 million cubic feet.

Visualize that. ...

BTW - The Dick Gibson site really is a treasure

Posted by: jdwill at July 29, 2006 01:44 AM

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