August 01, 2006

Hezbollah’s Coup d'État Continued...

I sure hope he's wrong, but I fear he might not be: Lebanon.Profile at the Lebanese Political Journal says Hezbollah effectively mounted a coup using Israel to assassinate the government. There are a few signs it won't turn out this way in the end, and I'll get to them shortly.

Posted by Michael J. Totten at August 1, 2006 12:06 AM
Comments

If Israel were to stop now I am afraid Lebanon.P would be right. But Israel has not yet even really begun. Tomorrow things begin. The bombing today 70 miles up into the B. Valley by the IAF is a sign of things to come. Places to go. Look for a'67, a '73 kind of speed. Syria is damned if they fight, damned if they don't. Either way it'll be short work. Hezbollah will be swallowed up or melt away and will lose all territory in either case. Up to the river, then a left to the sea. A week. Then another. Then the Lebanese army alongside a multinational force can begin to come in slowly as Israel gives back territory gained. Slowly. The border areas the last parts of the process done parallel to broader negotiations. Israel must be magnaminous with Lebanon. Make border concessions, etc... Iran, without its special forces on the Israeli border, will be great hurt as it begins final negotiations over its nuclear program. There is hope. But it will come at a cost. (Speculation hat off)

Posted by: dan at August 1, 2006 01:09 AM

Tomorrow is Tisha B'Av. Something no doubt weighing heavily on the Israeli soldiers. Given all that has been lost on this day, they will not be in any mood for losing.

Posted by: dan at August 1, 2006 01:51 AM

How can Hezbollah win if they keep shooting missles and kidnapping soldiers? Or letting the Iranians hustle them to shield Iranian desires from the rest of the world. They are activating two big enemies then. It's like putting a sign on their heads that says "shoot me first"

If a crooked UN gets in there, they could survive and live like a cancer in the country.

Posted by: jd at August 1, 2006 02:24 AM

Lebanon IS Hezbollah?
If so, and I think it mostly is, then Israel is at war with Lebanon.

And Lebanon should surrender. There will be more war without surrender.

I want peace. One side needs to lose to get peace.
That side should be Hezbollah.

Posted by: Tom Grey - Liberty Dad at August 1, 2006 02:33 AM

Michael
Don't believe that more Lebanese are now supporting Hezbollah. I am sure that is not true. At most, Hezbollah support may have increased among other more secular Chiites (the Nabih Berri Chiites), but in total that is still under 40% of all Lebanese. It is normal that other Lebanese vent their frustration at the bombing destroying some infrastructure and disrupting their lives, but at the end, they still know that the Hezbollah are the un-Lebanese agents of Syria of Iran, and are responsible for what is happening.

Posted by: Shams at August 1, 2006 02:47 AM

“I'm serious in asking this question. If Israel isn't wrong right now, when will the US, the international community, the rest of the world, and Israelis ever admit that Israel does horribly atrocious things?”

--- lebanon.profile

Lebanon.profile is truly an intellectually immature individual and a historical illiterate. Israel is not doing anything morally wrong. The blame for any deaths in Lebanon entirely rest on the shoulders of Hezbollah---who uses innocent civilians as human shields. Lebanon.profile needs to study the life of Winston Churchill concerning the ruthlessness required to save the world from Nazi tyranny. This person would have felt right at home among the pacifists who believed that surrendering to Hitler was preferable to war.

Posted by: David Thomson at August 1, 2006 03:27 AM

Were the founders of Israel "morally wrong" when they were busy blowing up British troops in Palestine while Winston Churchill was trying to save the world from Nazi tyranny, David?

Just curious...

Posted by: monkyboy at August 1, 2006 03:44 AM

Maybe they don't so much support Hezbollah as much as they condemn Israel's actions. I haven't seen the wording of the polls being cited, nor any that seperate the two.

To the topic: Perhaps Hezbollah will emerge as the new rulers. This is definitely a possibility, as it seems to be the trend in the region [Afganistan, the PA] for terrorists to take over countries, to shift from criminals to State actors.
Awful as that trend is, one can view it as presenting a kind of advantage in that, as they emerge from their shadows, they can be successfully deposed through formal declarations of war.

Posted by: Mark at August 1, 2006 03:50 AM

Pardon my language, but I do not give a damn about Lebanon except as its actions effect people outside of its borders. I fully support Israel in killing as many Hezbollah as it can, since the Lebs clearly did not want to pay the price to do so. Well, now the Lebs have to pay the price for their inaction.

If Lebanon.Profile is so upset about his country being taken over by a terrorist group, why does he not take up arms against that terrorist group instead of complaining about why he cannot party now (I know, he only made that complaint once, but I do think it showed his mindset).

Ron

Posted by: Ron Snyder at August 1, 2006 04:02 AM

Monkyboy:

Just to satisfy your curiosity.

The Jewish terrorist attacks heated up in late 1944 - when the war was definitely settled in the Middle East and mostly settled in Europe.

That said, the Jewish terrorists were practical anglophiles when compared with Arab leader Mufti al-Husseini, who tried to help the Nazis in Iraq then fled to Berlin and supported Nazi action in the Middle East from the safety of Hitler’s court.

It is interesting to see how the Jews handled their terrorist situation. The organizations to which you refer (The Stern Gang, the Irgun) were forced to disband or join the IDF after the state of Israel was created. Note that they were not given a section of the country to turn into their terrorist militia haven.

Posted by: SirGlubb at August 1, 2006 05:29 AM

Ron Snyder:
"Pardon my language, but I do not give a damn about Lebanon except as its actions effect people outside of its borders."

I have news for you. The ultimate success of this operation will depend on whether the Lebanese government can assert its authority INSIDE of its borders, after the bombing stops. The "don't give a damn" approach is not an option.

Posted by: Shams at August 1, 2006 05:42 AM

You might find this of interest re: the Lebanon War.

Tactics, Strategy, Grand Strategy

Posted by: M. Simon at August 1, 2006 05:48 AM

*

The Palestinian Role in the Holocaust

*

Posted by: M. Simon at August 1, 2006 05:51 AM

"Were the founders of Israel "morally wrong" when they were busy blowing up British troops in Palestine while Winston Churchill was trying to save the world from Nazi tyranny, David?"

Those founders of Israel who did that were morally wrong, yes.

But they were neither the majority nor was their behaviour openly supported by the Israeli government once it existed.

Furthermore, their targets were not British civilians but British troops. Not that British troops are not human beings too, but it's hardly comparable to the terrorism Israel complains about.

Posted by: Andrew Brehm at August 1, 2006 06:02 AM

"I want peace. One side needs to lose to get peace.
That side should be Hezbollah."

Tom Grey is absolutely correct. There is no victory unitl the enemy's will to fight is destroyed.

Posted by: Michael Smith at August 1, 2006 06:43 AM

Israel doesn't understand anything to Lebanon. It is going to achieve the exact opposite of its initial objectives.

Posted by: ex-Montreal at August 1, 2006 06:46 AM

As for Israel's assisting Hezbullah's coup d'etat, taking over the Lebanese government, in effect, was Hezbullah's goal (backed by Syria and Iran) all along.

If one wants to blame Israel for it---or for enabling it---that would certainly be par for the course.

However, reasonable people might consider that Israel would prefer precisely not to have Hezbullah pulling the strings in Lebanon, which is what Hezbullah has, effectively, been doing over the past several years, to the tune of its handlers in Syria and Iran; and that this is ostensibly the whole purpose of this latest war.

But reason doesn't count for much these days. Especially when blaming Israel is such a popular and auspicious pasttime.

Posted by: Barry Meislin at August 1, 2006 08:13 AM

The Israelis are almost in a catch-22. They have the military might to take out Hezbollah but in order to do that you will inflame the rest of Lebanon and Arab world. Then they might fight themselves stuck over there like we are in Iraq.

Posted by: tommy in nyc at August 1, 2006 08:37 AM

Shams:
Its quite obvious that the Lebanon government has been completely unable to assert its authority within its borders even before this campaign started. So if it is still unable to do so afterwards, then Israel ends up with the status quo, but with a weakened Hezbollah. How is this a losing proposition for Israel? Even if Hezbollah succeeds in a coup (which is debatable), it would seem that this would just make the Hez leaders in name, instead of in practice. (much like Hamas in Palestine)

Stupid question: if "less 40% of the Lebanese support Hezbollah", and (referenced elsewhere) the Lebanese Army is incompetent to deal with Hez because it is riddled with Syrian sympathizers, then why not have the Lebanese gov't invite Israel in to clean their house for them?

Posted by: Jonathan at August 1, 2006 08:57 AM

OK,

It's official. Lebanon.Profile's rants have brought on a powerful bout of sympathy fatigue.

All it takes is for one of those missles hitting Haifa to have chemical weapons or worse on it, and the number of casualties in Israel would be catastrophic.

It's sad to see how utterly dysfunctional the Arab societies are, and how Israel and the rest of us are constantly blamed in how we react to the bitter fruits of that dysfunctionality.

Michael, you've always been one of my favorite writers on this situation. A friend of mine met you in Portland and said you were great. As an aspiring writer myself, your do-it-yourself attitude remains very inspirational. Plus, Homicide is your favorite show of all time - so I can't fault your judgment (though I still think The Shield is almost as good ;-) ).

And yes, the Israeli airport should be hooked into Google.

But I'm sorry, I can't just sit back and listen to the constant "We can't do anything - we were incorporating them peacefully into our government!" shtick that comes year after year from the Arab world - whether it be Abu Mazen or anyone else.

Last night I went to dinner with one of my best friends - a Lebanese ex-pat whose extended family came to Washington to flee the current situation. She wasn't moaning like a wounded victim and blaming Israel for everything.

Much of what you say about the situation is probably true, Michael, but please understand there's only so much one can take.

Peace out.

Posted by: davesax at August 1, 2006 09:44 AM

davesax: Much of what you say about the situation is probably true, Michael, but please understand there's only so much one can take.

How do you think I feel? I can't take it either, but I can't change it and I'm not going to wear a fake smiley face.

Maybe this will turn out okay: Hezbollah will be weakened, the Lebanese government will be strengthened, and Lebanon will quickly rebuild. But that's only one possibility out of many. And besides, Syria and Iran will continue attacking both Lebanon and Israel until the enemy is properly identified and confronted.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at August 1, 2006 09:56 AM

an interesting perspective...

http://beirutspring.blogspot.com/2006/07/some-answers.html

Posted by: R. El Saghir at August 1, 2006 10:17 AM

Michael:

I understand. I really do. And I feel sympathy for the people of Lebanon. I would not want to be in Lebanon.Profile's position. And I trust your reporting 100%. And will continue to read it after a nice break.

But the "You see, it's simple, Israel kills Lebanese, Hezbollah doesn't," is revealing. Because we all know that Hezbollah doesn't kill Lebanese - they kill Jews. And that's fine. Until Jews fight back.

Israeli society is far from perfect, and Israel is not always right, but I can guarantee you that if a bunch of fanatical settlers were parking missle silos in garages in Haifa and Tel-Aviv, and firing them into Jordan, the Israeli public just would not tolerate it. Jews the world over would be absolutely livid.

And if a group of crackers parked missles in garages and schools in Texas and Washington and started shooting them across the borders into Mexico and Canada, Americans just would not accept it. No matter what.

Nor would the world make excuses for us.

Last week I climbed the tallest mountain in Maine. It was far easier, more gratifying, and less emotionally taxing than reading this constant litany of denial - while Israelis are hiding in bunkers as Nasrallah brags about killing civilians, and Israel gets blamed internationally for a war they did not start.

I guess I'm content to continue meeting my Lebanese friend once a week for salsa class and dinner in our protected world of New York City restaurants while you guys figure it out.

God bless America. And see you in the future.

Posted by: davesax at August 1, 2006 10:22 AM

Jonathan:

A coup is highly unlikely in Lebanon where there are over 10 religions and 25 political parties. In addition, the mountainous terrain makes control of the country by force virtually impossible. Even the Syrians (who tried harder than anyone) could only do it through intimidation and terror, rather than through a policing force.

The Lebanese government can't ask Israel to do its work because the government is not united. Some in the government see Israel as an enemy while others know they would sign their death warrants by allying with Israel, even if they wanted to.

Posted by: Shams at August 1, 2006 10:27 AM

Latest from this morning (via Yahoo News):

Israel resumed frequent airstrikes after it decided, in a major expansion of its offensive, to send thousands more troops deeper into Lebanon.

The soldiers will go as far as the Litani River, 18 miles from the Israeli border, to clear out Hezbollah fighters and hold the territory until a multinational force is deployed there, senior Israeli officials said Tuesday.

I guess we're back to where we started off, 3 weeks ago. Israel had asked for this bufferzone up to the Litani river, but was not willing to commit the ground troops required to secure it, hoping somebody else would do the dirty work, while the IDF took shots at missile launchers and civilian infrastructure.

Looks like Israel has now decided it needs to go at it anyway, ground forces and all.

Posted by: Bad Vilbel at August 1, 2006 10:33 AM

That should have been "The IAF" in the previous comment. Sorry.

Posted by: Bad Vilbel at August 1, 2006 10:34 AM

'Were the founders of Israel "morally wrong" when they were busy blowing up British troops in Palestine while Winston Churchill was trying to save the world from Nazi tyranny'.

Yes, Churchill was fighting the Nazis, but those British troops in Palestine were 'contributing' to the war effort by turning desperate Jewish refugees from Europe away in their rickety ships. So IF the aim of the war was to defeat Nazism, those British troops who failed to help stop the persecution of Nazi victims seem to have been on the wrong side. And therefore, fighting their policy of turning away the refugees (which is what the Jewish terrorists were doing) seems as moral as any of the other partisan efforts against the Nazis.

Posted by: ilana at August 1, 2006 10:56 AM

Michael—
Monkyboy: I fail to see why this is a disaster for the United States.
Michael: We lost an Arab ally today, and the Arabs are rapidly losing their only democracy.
Michael If you think this is good or even neutral for the US then you definitely don't live in the same mental universe as I do.
So long as Hezbollah doesn’t end up leading or controlling the government, I don’t think we will have permanently lost Lebanon as an ally of sorts. Warm feelings will stay gone. The moderates and for that matter all the non Shiites need our help, as well as that of Saudi Arabia, which will counsel them to mend broken ties with us. We have lost tons of popular good will though and that won’t repair easily or soon.
If we can manage to get the Israelis to give up Shabaa Farms and do a prisoner exchange it will help a lot. What will help the most is if Hezbollah does get disarmed, or mostly disarmed, and folded into the Lebanese army. No more rockets. THAT when combined with Shabba Farms will be seen as at least SOME good outcome of this tragedy by all but the Shi’a, I think.
Having said that, let me also say as I have been saying for the past week on a number of blogs and forums that I think this conflict should have ended more than a week ago, for Israel and America’s own good, as well as Lebanon’s. I think the shock and deterrent effect (against future Hezbollah rocket attacks or cross border raids) of the attack was at it’s height then and has been declining since, as Israel’s ground campaign has proceeded much more slowly and with more Israeli casualties than most people including I think Hezbollah leadership expected. The US let Israel proceed because it thought Israel would do more on the ground by now than it has, but there were early signs and Rice and co should have gotten a better read from Israel as to how small and cautious their invasion was going to continue to be.
The prior paragraph would be wrong if the IDF is actually killing a lot more Hez core fighters than it seems or have taken out a lot more rockets than it seems. I doubt those are the facts though.

Posted by: dougjnn at August 1, 2006 11:04 AM

This Ralph Peters article in the NY Post (linked by Michael over at Instapundit) is pretty devastating as to how badly Israel is effectively losing this war.

http://www.nypost.com/postopinion/opedcolumnists/the_road_to_qana_opedcolumnists_ralph_peters.htm

Posted by: dougjnn at August 1, 2006 11:10 AM

Ilana,

I think you just justified acts of terrorism. Talk about a double standard.
Osama would be proud.

Acts of terror are NEVER justified. No matter who commits them and why.
I'm sure the Al-Qaeda goons also have plenty of roundabout justifications as to why their acts of terror are justified. Same as you.

Posted by: Bad Vilbel at August 1, 2006 11:11 AM

This site is rapidly becoming the area where the losers and defeatists hang out. Israel is making steady progress against a well armed militia that wage war in built up civilian areas. They have broken Hizbollah and this will become increasingly clear in the coming days.

I love the armchair generals who say that Israel should have hit Syria, not Lebanon. Imagine the uproar if they had. It also begs the question why Israel has to do the work the Americans should have completed by now. Oh yeah that's right - America lets Israel do its dirty work.

Peters article is absurd - it must have been written a few days ago, before Israel began serious land fighting.

Posted by: TD at August 1, 2006 11:25 AM

Imagine the uproar if they had.

So? There's a huge uproar anyway.

If Israel hit Syria, though, Lebanon would have taken Israel's side. That would have really been something.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at August 1, 2006 11:34 AM

Michael

I have huge respect for you and the work that you have done, but I think that your attachment to Lebanon is clouding your judgement. The idea that Israel could take out Syria first and not HIzbollah within Lebanon is plain wrong. HIzbollah has to go first, then perhaps Syria - if they are drawn in. To hit Syria first would leave Hizbollah unchallenged - they would have come in on Syria's side. Also your assumption that the Lebanese government wuld have supported an Israeli action against Syria - especially with a fully armed HIzbollah inside their country - does not stand up to scrutiny. I note that senior Lebanese politicians in the last few days have given Hizbollah unqualified support, even suggesting merging the Lebanese army with Hizbollah. This is totally consistent with their support of Hizbollah over the last 6 years.

I agree that the Lebanese are suffering and that this is horrible. No doubt this is affecting many of your friends. However it must have been obvious at some time over the last 6 years of Hizbollah preparation that something was going to give. HIzbollah were always going to try something stupid and have been threatening Israel ever since Lebanon let them grow to this strength. Now Israel is hitting back. Sorry - but Lebanon have lost their credibility on this issue.

Nation states cannot engage in ceasfires with terrorist groups. To do so confers legitimacy on them and permits them to be treated as equivalent to nation states. In a sane world, all nation states would back Israel 100%.

Posted by: TD at August 1, 2006 11:45 AM

Well, let's try again . . .

If it was only him, it'd be, well, uninformative. But Lebanon.Profile is exhibiting the self-infantalization that got him and his country in this particular mess -- rather than a different particular mess -- in the first place.

And he admits it all over the place. Israel wasn't Lebanon's enemy, he says, until recently -- it's just all those (Lebanese) politicians who kept saying that. And, he doesn't say, acting on it. The Lebanese had rejected Hezbollah, he says, but they just hadn't gotten around to, well, doing anything about it. But maybe those letters to the editor hurt Nasrallah's feelings -- isn't that a start? Israel -- not the Lebanese -- are responsible for what goes on in Lebanon, when it isn't Syria, or Iran; the Lebanese can never take responsibility for their own country, after all. Lebanon wants peace, but Lebanon.Profile says that most Lebanese want to "destroy" Israel like Israel has "destroyed" Lebanon, but, hey, not really; it's just a slap. Israel was just a historical moment away from peace with the Arabs until a couple of weeks ago, and, hey, Hezbollah doesn't kill (many) Lebanese, after all -- they just shoot at Israelis from behind the human body armor, which they wear as tightly as they can, and isn't it a horrible thing that the human body armor doesn't persuade Israel to stand down?

... and here's the sad part: I think he honestly believes all of that, and he wants Daddy to take over and make it all better, and if Daddy turns out to be Hezbollah, that's not really fine with him . . . but he's not going to be writing those powerful letters to the editor anymore.

But he's right: after things quiet down, Hezbollah will likely start in on the Lebanese who have been critical . . . before they move onto those who haven't been sufficiently supportive.

Bad Vilbel has it right, I think: after things settle down, the "old internal divisions... will resurface, meaner and bigger than ever." That -- and what's going on now -- is a consequence of Vichy Lebanon and the Iranian occupation.

Make another accomodation with Hezbollah, if you choose; it will necessarily be much worse next time, and it's likely to be much worse, still, this time.

Posted by: Joel Rosenberg at August 1, 2006 12:02 PM

Last comment from me - where on earth is America in this conflict? Easy to have a go at Israel - but where is American pressure on Iran ? Why no action against Syria ? I think that you're 100% right that military action against Syria (and in my opinion Iran) is well overdue - but why is it that Israel is responsible for this?

Israel whould be the tip of a much larger spear and the ultimate aim has to be bringing down Assad and the mullahs. The much larger spear is American armed force. As Lebanon permitted Hizbollah to grow, so America is letting the mullahs and even Assad ot become more powerful. Each day without action makes these adversaries more dangerous.

Perhaps this is the plan and we're in for some surprises.

Posted by: TD at August 1, 2006 12:09 PM

I'm absolutely sure that no one is interested in this point anymore, but monkeyboy's comment is not only inaccurate, it is a slander. During WWII, not only the Hagana but the erstwhile terrorist group Etzel declared a truce with Britain in order to help fight the Nazis. The leader of Etzel, David Raziel (Menachem Begin's predecessor)was killed in Iraq on a mission for the British. Only the tiny Stern Gang continued the fight with Britain, and they were quickly liquidated, with help from the pre-state intelligence services.

As always, Monkeyboy prefers the quick one-liner to anything with substance or historical accuracy.

Posted by: MarkC at August 1, 2006 12:10 PM

Joel, here is what you don't seem to understand.

Lebanon has to accomodate the Shia population. They are 35 to 40 percent of Lebanon. Lebanese democracy is sectarian. It's basically Affirmative Action in parliament. Each sect gets an allotted amount of power, and each sect gets to elect whomever it wants to fill that allotted space in the government.

Hezbollah is one of the Shia's two major political parties. (Amal is the other.) If Lebanon ejected Hezbollah from the democratic government it would start a sectarian civil war. And Hezbollah would win.

It's easy for you to say Lebanese should have taken care of this problem instantly and by force. You say this as a person who is used to being able to win wars, though. They would lose and they know it. Therefore starting a war with Hezbollah is suicide. Starting a war you can't win is not wise. You are telling me that my friend LP should have committed suicide, and I'm not buying it.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at August 1, 2006 12:13 PM

Plain bold justice: "An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth"
Kidnapping 2 soldiers = destruction of 1/3 of a country, displacement of a million Shiites, and blind force that killed hundreds of civilians?

Absence of justice will just give the legal morality and popular support to mirror the violence. Be it Hezbollah, Al Qaeda, or the hundreds of thousands of palestinians still living in Lebanon...

Posted by: Ross at August 1, 2006 12:32 PM

Dear Michael,

Below is my attempt at a realistic scenario of hope for Lebanon. Essentially, it is a 10-point program for a minority emergency government which might follow a hoped-for neutralization of the Hizballite military forces. My premise is that either Hizballah or anything resembling a Lebanon anyone has ever know will go away forever, and soon, justifying an emergency, anti-Hizballite government.

Since much of my thinking is shaped--however indirectly--by your writings, I am cross-posting this comment here after posting it to comments here:

The Thinking Lebanese: Some Wise Words ... by Faysal
http://thethinkingleb.blogspot.com/2006/07/some-wise-words.html

Dear Faysal,

I'm an American with little to go on beyond knowing that the Lebanese I know/have known are wonderful people irrespective of their sectarian backgrounds. Someone recently referred to the Cedar Revolution as 'Quixotic', a real change from the burning hope it had inspired before. I can see why when I read the gloomy reports from Lebanon, especially by Lebanese themselves.

Still, I pray not all is utterly lost. Lebanese national life has been sabotaged by Hizballah, the Syrians, and the Iranians. Is there a realistically possible pathway back to Lebanese national integrity?

I think so, given the profound depth of Lebanese courage. Would you agree such a path back from the abyss requires:

1) disarming militias;
2) expelling extra-national forces from al-Bekaa;
3) replacing sectarian social services with national;
4) 'Lebanon First and Only' loyalty oaths by all parties permitted to run candidates;
5) new, non- [or less-] sectarian electoral rules;
6) controlling borders with Syria and Israel;
7) Lebanese national control of finance, trade, banking, taxes;
8) integration of ex-militia as individuals into Lebanese Army;
9) purging pro-Syrian elements from the military;
10) prosecution of Syrian agents and collaborators for crimes.

These objectives would be a 10-point policy program.

This miracle program would comprise stage two of the Cedar Revolution, if achieved. If it doesn't happen, Hizballah will liquidate Lebanon as anyone has ever known her.

How can it be achieved? The most necessary key would be a coherent Lebanese political core.

Is it possible 'March 14 Forces' parties could form a minority Lebanese National Emergency Government (LNEG -sorry for a new acronym, but I hate typing), assuming control of the Lebanese Army with assistance from an international supporting force? In my ignorance, I don't know if March 14'ers would include substantial representation from Sunni's, much less Shia, so you tell me!

The international force would have to operate outside UN authorization (duh!), and under deployment/direction of the LNEG.

Would this LNEG and parties outside the LNEG accept Jordanian, Turkish, Cypriot, and/or Iraqi troops (yes, Iraqi, why not)? What about participation by NATO forces? India or Japan? Er, American (if without 'cut and run')? Most critically, the International forces and LNEG will have to be willing to fight.

The LNEG would have popular legitimacy if it implemented the 10-point program outlined above. Coopting Hizballah social services would be the most critical task in the South. Disarming Hizballah and clearing al-Bekaa would do a lot to satisfy everyone else, no?

Turkey, Cyprus, Jordan, and Iraq can join Lebanon to form a regional security group to effectively restrain Syro-Iranian arms smuggling and speak independently of Israel.

Idle dream, or realistic hope?

Posted by: jfd at August 1, 2006 12:36 PM

A coup? It's hard to believe, but certainly possible, I suppose.
If it's true, and according to the prevailing logic (sic) of the day, wouldn't that make supporters of the Israeli incursion objectively pro-Hezbollah? Just a thought.

Posted by: Scot at August 1, 2006 12:38 PM

Mark C.,

Menachem Begin and his troops resumed attacks on the British in Palestine in 1944. No need to whitewash history. I was just curious about the moral aspects of these attacks....were they "morally wrong?"

Posted by: monkyboy at August 1, 2006 12:38 PM

i will the repeat the same thing, as long as iran and syria is not dealt with we will see this skirmish betweeen israel and hezbollah over and over again. iran is the head of snake in all middle east, evil mullahs is expanding their powers now by proxies ,lies of championing islam. iran is less than 50 percent persian ethnic group. other 50 percent are kurds [ which will not hesitate to join their brethren in iraqi kurdistan] azeris,belouch turkoman which are all oppressed ethnically and religiously because they are sunni where persians are shia. that will be second chapter of new middle east project which will make the rest of the job easier. and syria by that time will already surrender. divide and conquer. a new map is necessary for middle east and i recommend you checj armed forces journal, ralph peters article. retired general.

Posted by: california at August 1, 2006 12:50 PM

TD:

Nation states cannot engage in ceasfires with terrorist groups. To do so confers legitimacy on them and permits them to be treated as equivalent to nation states. In a sane world, all nation states would back Israel 100%.

I will remind you that the US did just that with the shiite milita of Muqtada Al Sadr in Iraq, as a precursor to bringing him into the fold of the political process.

Posted by: Bad Vilbel at August 1, 2006 12:59 PM

TD: Israel whould be the tip of a much larger spear and the ultimate aim has to be bringing down Assad and the mullahs. The much larger spear is American armed force. As Lebanon permitted Hizbollah to grow, so America is letting the mullahs and even Assad ot become more powerful. Each day without action makes these adversaries more dangerous.

I've explained before why i dont think Israel or the USA are interested in taking this fight to Syria and Iran. At least not right now.
Specially Syria.
There is no viable, stable replacement for the Assad regime. Israel does not want to see Syria turn into another Iraq, a haven for Al-Qaeda or even worse, a Syria run by the Muslim Brotherhood (which is the only current viable Syrian opposition to Assad's regime).

It's that simple. They CAN'T go against Syria, so they go against the easier target (Hezbollah/Lebanon).

Posted by: Bad Vilbel at August 1, 2006 01:04 PM

MJT says Lebanon has to accomodate the Shia population. They are 35 to 40 percent of Lebanon. Lebanese democracy is sectarian. It's basically Affirmative Action in parliament. Each sect gets an allotted amount of power, and each sect gets to elect whomever it wants to fill that allotted space in the government.

Hezbollah is one of the Shia's two major political parties. (Amal is the other.) If Lebanon ejected Hezbollah from the democratic government it would start a sectarian civil war. And Hezbollah would win.

It's easy for you to say Lebanese should have taken care of this problem instantly and by force. You say this as a person who is used to being able to win wars, though. They would lose and they know it. Therefore starting a war with Hezbollah is suicide. Starting a war you can't win is not wise. You are telling me that my friend LP should have committed suicide, and I'm not buying it.

This is what a lot of people are not getting, michael. And I don't expect they will anytime soon. You are 100% right.

Just telling the truth doesn't mean Michael is pro-hezbollah or any such drivel. He's just stating facts. It's easy for outsiders to say "Lebanon should've taken on hezbollah." But the makeup of the lebanese population currently makes that IMPOSSIBLE. Pure and simple. And just wishing it so will not make it happen. This is why ultimately, the ONLY way to solve this problem is by politically assimilating the shia in some format.

We could all sit here and wish for unrealistic, nay, impossible things. That doesn't make for solving the problem, nor does it make for constructive dialogue.

Posted by: Bad Vilbel at August 1, 2006 01:10 PM

Abu Kais reports the following from Human Rights Watch:

LINK

And please, spare me the "Human rights watch are a bunch of anti-israeli anti semites..." commentary.

Posted by: Bad Vilbel at August 1, 2006 01:22 PM

I will remind you that the US did just that with the shiite milita of Muqtada Al Sadr in Iraq, as a precursor to bringing him into the fold of the political process.--- BV

Yeah, and that has worked out ever so well, has it not ? The revolting little toad is still there infecting the process with his mindless,theocratic barbarism. AND he still has his armed gang of grade 1 dropouts to impose his will should his usual stupid turn of phrase not quite do the trick. I'm sure you could find a 'better' example of needs must when the devil drives than this little scumbag.

You can 'deal 'with terrorist groups (if you must), as long as the terror is not based upon some existential imperative. When Hezbollah demonstrates that its goal is not the very extinction of Israel, then there is room for 'negotiation'. Absent that 'revision' any negotiations and 'adjustments' are merely interludes between conflict. Danegeld if you will.

Frankly I am beginning to wish that we could just fast-forward to the real 'end-game' with all these new Nazis. Hezbollah, Hamas, Al-Queda, Islamic Jihad, Jihadis-r-Us, and of course IRAN.

We all know it's coming. The only question is the time frame.

Posted by: dougf at August 1, 2006 01:39 PM

Michael, here's what your refusing to understand: the majority of Lebanon isn't Shiite. The Shiites are either going to have to make accomodations, or continue to bring death and destruction down on their fellow countrymen as well as themselves. Human body armor -- whether it's Shiite or Druse or Christian -- only works when its allowed to.

Your non-Hezbollah friends -- for a time -- preserved their own comfort and safety by their concordat with Hezbollah, and by deluding themselves that that could be prolonged indefinitely, or changed via a political process.

That concordat brought them "peace in [their] time", but that time was always destined to come to an end, just as Munich bought Chamberlain only temporary respite.

They've supped with the devil, and the spoon is only long enough for the expatriates.

What they -- and, I believe, you -- don't understand is that it's going to get much worse, one way or another, before it has a chance at getting better. That may be hard for some of your friends to understand as they sip coffee at the largely empty seaside cafes in non-Hezbollah Beirut while bemoaning the noise overhead and the bangs to the south.

And if there already hadn't been enough evidence of that to date, the IDF is in the Bekaa. Your Lebanese friends have a much better chance dealing with their local Hezbollards than they do with IDF artillery.

Posted by: Joel Rosenberg at August 1, 2006 01:53 PM

Joel: They've supped with the devil

You're not listening. Now they're supping with the devil, Joel. Now. After Israel bombed them. It's stupid as hell, but completely predictable.

Saying they should have started a war a year ago they were 100 percent guaranteed to lose isn't an answer.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at August 1, 2006 02:00 PM

The revolting little toad is still there infecting the process with his mindless,theocratic barbarism. AND he still has his armed gang of grade 1 dropouts to impose his will should his usual stupid turn of phrase not quite do the trick.

Who are you talking about here doug?

Posted by: monkyboy at August 1, 2006 02:03 PM

TD said:

"Last comment from me - where on earth is America in this conflict?"

A darn good question. America has lowered itself to the level of European appeasement and is presently engaged in a disgusting and craven attempt to give in to nuclear extortion by offering Iran a package of "incentives" to give up its quest for nuclear weapons.

This is just as idiotic as sending our Secretary of State to the mideast to ask for a cease-fire at the very time the forces of a free nation are seeking to destroy a murderous group of totalitarians.

Michael Totten correctly pointed out:

"Syria and Iran will continue attacking both Lebanon and Israel until the enemy is properly identified and confronted."

Yes indeed. Much progress has been made in properly identifying the enemy. The problem we have now is with the "confrontation" part.

The great disaster of Iraq is not the internal turmoil, the daily terrorism, the death squads, etc. Those things are bad enough -- but the real disaster is that the leftist/pacifist/nihilist coalition of the unwilling in America have used this effort at partial, limited war to discredit the use of military force against state sponsors of terror altogether. Any suggestion of military action against Iran is greeted with a sneer and a snarl and something like, "What, you want another Iraq?"

Of course, what has actually been discredited is the attempt to fight a war on the left's terms, i.e. fight a war wherein the side fighting for freedom accepts the poisonous notion that they are responsible for civilian casualties and cannot use overwhelming force.

But Bush does not know how to articulate the arguments in favor of waging proper war -- so he and we are stuck with the pathetic, embarrassing charade of international diplomacy. The most optimistic assessment is that Bush has a plan for military action and is simply going to go through every possible appeasing diplomatic maneuver demanded by the left, so that when that fails, he can say the military action is the only thing left.

Posted by: Michael Smith at August 1, 2006 02:11 PM

Who are you talking about here doug?--Monkeyboy

My favourite 'little toad', from the Islamic deck of playing cards, the one and only Muqtada al-Sadr. A true example of Islamic 'learning', a real man-of-the-people.

And a nasty little fascist with delusions of grandeur,and only a transitory interest in 'democracy' or 'diversity'.

Bringing this guy' into the process' was an act of supreme self-delusion, and a willfully imposed triumph of hope over experience. That is why I suggested that BV might find a more 'suitable' example of a useful accomdation with terrorists.

Shouldn't be hard.

Posted by: dougf at August 1, 2006 02:18 PM

The great disaster of Iraq is not the internal turmoil, the daily terrorism, the death squads, etc. Those things are bad enough -- but the real disaster is that the leftist/pacifist/nihilist coalition of the unwilling in America have used this effort at partial, limited war to discredit the use of military force against state sponsors of terror altogether. Any suggestion of military action against Iran is greeted with a sneer and a snarl and something like, "What, you want another Iraq?"

Trust me when i say that if Iraq had turned out a success, there wouldn't be such calls.
You bet your ass people are askign "What, you want another Iraq?". They are entitled to do that after seeing that operation FAIL miserably.
Let me ask you this. If your friend starts a busines venture, and goes about it the wrong way, and ends up failing miserably. Would you advise him to try again, the same exact way? Or would you advise he may want to try his next business with a different strategy in mind?

Posted by: Bad Vilbel at August 1, 2006 02:19 PM

To be clear: I do not advocate regime-change in Syria right now. Assad is rational. Bust his knee caps and he'll change his behavior. Reward him and he won't.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at August 1, 2006 02:31 PM

If your friend starts a busines venture, and goes about it the wrong way, and ends up failing miserably. Would you advise him to try again, the same exact way? Or would you advise he may want to try his next business with a different strategy in mind?--BV

Well I'm not sure that 'failing miserably' is exactly the right description for Iraq, but I will admit that it does not look good.

Anyone who suggests that anything less than a Total War against Iran is a viable alternative is, as you say, subject to some 'negative feedback'.

Any attack on Iran would be disastrous short of a decision to bring the whole State and Country down. Iran is I think much more 'patriotic' than Iraq, and would resist fiercely any assault on its territory. Now that would indeed be a Quagmire of monumental proportions.

You are 100% correct to warn against this catastrophic alternative. It simply is not a 'reasonable' option at this time. No-one wants to go 'full-bore', nor to be entirely candid, is there really a 'justification' for so doing. I think Iran is a dangerous actor and that it will eventaully bring the whole systme down, but I think that. I don't know that.

Posted by: dougf at August 1, 2006 02:34 PM

Ahh, thanks, doug,

I thought you'd scored an own goal.

Demonizing an enemy makes sense...but the success of Iraqi democracy depends on Sadr...he is Bushie's biggest ally.

You might want to tone down your rhetoric a touch.

Posted by: monkyboy at August 1, 2006 02:41 PM

You're right. There is no upcoming war on Iran. And that's why the US is currently unable to enforce much of their desires in Lebanon. They have no leverage over Iran or Syria. None. Iran and Syria KNOW the US cannot take them on right now.

I do disagree with your "no justification" comment. If anything, there IS a justification for taking on Iran (not that we will, or could). Much more so than there was about Iraq.
There is the nuclear issue. There is the active support for Hezbollah.
If you could go to war with Saddam over "rape room" allegations, and mystery WMDs that no one ever found, you can CERTAINLY go to war with Iran today. We went to war in Iraq over far less, if you ask me.

But that's neither here nor there. We both know it ain't gonna happen. That US-Iran war is being fought RIGHT NOW in South Lebanon.

Posted by: Bad Vilbel at August 1, 2006 02:42 PM

I agree -- Israel should have declared the Syria supported Hez action as that of an act of war, and declared war on Hez and Syria.

And told Syria it would bomb a Sryian military base for each Hez rocket, and keep bombing until Syria agrees to cease support for Hezbollah.

In my dreams.

In another dream, Israel wasn't ready to bomb Syria, and therefore didn't want to get active with them, yet. Now they're ready, so they can get more intense against Hezbollah on the ground.

It was not fully moral for the Brits, controlling the Palestine area, to stop Jewish refugees from going there -- it also was highly immoral of FDR (MT's favorite pres) to deny safe passage and disembarkment of Jews in the late 30s; which helped convince Hitler, rhetorically, that "nobody" wanted the problematic Jews.

Once the Jews were in current Israel, their terrorism against Arabs (they weren't "Palestinians" then) was immoral. They should have just kept buying land as before. The declaration of independence was not immoral; and when Lebanon & other Jew-hating countries attacked Israel in 1948, Israel was certainly entitled to defend itself.

Survival, but no permanent peace, with agreed to borders, was the result. And again in 1956 when Nasser attacked; and again in 1967 when Israel pre-emptively attacked the forming armies; and again in 1973 when the Arabs attacked again.

I'm sick of it. I'm angry at it. It's not fair, it's not just, it's not moral. Most of the Arab/Muslim countries do NOT accept free speech and free religion, the two basic UN human rights.

I now believe that countries which do not accept free speech and free religion do not deserve "inviolability" of national borders. And if such anti-human rights countries, or orgs in such countries (Hez in Leb), attack, they should lose land.

Lebanon should give up all claims to Shebba Farms. Maybe more.

But c'mon folks -- probably more civilians died in Darfur over the last month than in Lebanon. Isn't there a bit "disproportionate" attention being placed here?

What about reports of "Israeli spies" being executed by Hez/ or was it Lebanon? No real trial, just murdered -- because they opposed the terrorists?

Posted by: Tom Grey - Liberty Dad at August 1, 2006 02:43 PM

"If your friend starts a busines venture, and goes about it the wrong way, and ends up failing miserably. Would you advise him to try again, the same exact way? Or would you advise he may want to try his next business with a different strategy in mind?"

Is it really possible, Bad Vilbel, that after all my posts here, including the last one, it is still not clear to you that I advocate a totally different approach to war than what is being done in Iraq?

And is it really possible that you do not get the point that the failure of one business strategy is not a justification for declaring that all possible business strategies are doomed to fail and we must give up on the idea of going into business altogether?

"No-one wants to go 'full-bore', nor to be entirely candid, is there really a 'justification' for so doing."

I want to go "full bore". And the justification is simple. Iran is the world's leading state sponsor of terrorism, they are the heart of the global jihadist movement and they have explicitly declared their intention to destroy us. It is neither necessary nor advisable to wait for them to get into a position to make good on their threats.

If you think Iran can be stopped by anything short of military defeat, you are dreaming.

Posted by: Michael Smith at August 1, 2006 02:58 PM

Michael, I don't understand how you don't hear what you yourself are saying! How can you say on the one hand that "most Lebanese" didn't support Hezbollah and on the other hand admit that half the country is Shia and was more or less in Hezbollah's pocket to begin with. Your Lebanese who don't support Hezbollah are the minority party, even if they have the trappings of democratic legitimacy. The "average Lebanese" - if you include the Shia, which you seem not to do a lot - hated Israel before 3 weeks ago, even if the liberal Lebanese didn't.

It's not fair to point fingers at the liberal Lebanese and insist they should have done something any more than it's fair to point to the minority of decent Germans of the 40's and insist they should have overthrown the Nazis. They didn't have the power - extremists are hard to confront - and it wasn't their fault that they weren't strong enough. But by the same token the fact that some non Nazi Germans would be killed by bombing Berlin was not a reason for the Allies not to bomb. Innocents die in war - it's a terrible fact, but it's been true in every war in human history, and the Geneva convention attempts to limit this, not outlaw it, because that's untenable. (Incidentally the Convention explicitly allows the killing of civillians who are being used by the enemy as human shields, CNN liberalism nonwithstanding).

Truman dropped the bomb on Japan for a simple reason; he calculated how many American lives it would cost to take Japan using traditional warfare and found the cost too high to bear. So he murdered tens of thousands of women and children. Was that moral? Perhaps or perhaps not, but he was right that his obligation was to save the lives of his own soldiers and not to let another hundred thousand American boys die in island combat to save enemies, even at the cost of enemy noncombatants. Israel is doing the same thing on a smaller scale - flattening Southern Lebanon, and understanding that there will be civilian casualties even if they work to minimize them, because the cost in Israeli lives is too much to bear otherwise. That is almost the definition of war, and it's never pretty, and the side getting flattened always feels that they are being terrorized for the actions of others. But that's how the world works.

Posted by: grend123 at August 1, 2006 03:01 PM

Naharnet news ticker is reporting that an Israeli helicopter crew is surrounded by Hezbollah at the moment. Not confirmed...

Posted by: Bad Vilbel at August 1, 2006 03:02 PM

Bad Vilbel said:

"If anything, there IS a justification for taking on Iran (not that we will, or could)."

What do you mean by "or could"? We have plenty of military power to do it. It is only the will that we lack.

Posted by: Michael Smith at August 1, 2006 03:05 PM

from dougf, above:

"And a nasty little fascist with delusions of grandeur,and only a transitory interest in 'democracy' or 'diversity'.

Bringing this guy' into the process' was an act of supreme self-delusion, and a willfully imposed triumph of hope over experience."

Doug's talking about Sadr, but when I read it, I thought this a perfect decription of Bush.

Jake

Posted by: Jake - but not the one at August 1, 2006 03:09 PM

Michael Smith:

"COULD" is not only a military term. Why is it you people only talk about military ability. There is also political ability.
I stand by my wording: THE USA today CANNOT take on Iran. (I don't mean militarily). The US public opinion would not stand for it. Plain and simple. It would be political suicide for the Republicans, a few months before elections.

Posted by: Bad Vilbel at August 1, 2006 03:15 PM

You might want to tone down your rhetoric a touch.--Monkeyboy

Naaaahh.

I think not. I like my rhetoric just as it is when describing creatures such as Al-Sadr, and I am comfortable standing behind it. Thanks all the same.

The subject of my 'excess' is exactly what I described him to be . Namely a 'revolting little toad', and a 'nasty little fascist with delusions of grandeur'. In the 'best of all possible worlds', he should have had a tragic 'accident' in 2003, when 'accidents' were popping up all over. Instead of which ----

Thanks anyway, however. Nice to know you are looking out for my welfare in these difficult times.

ps--Jake but not the one

Jake PLEASE don't use my words to buttress that type of statement. If you really think that Bush is a 'fascist' , you truly need to do a LOT more reading. And if you don't but simply are gripped by BDS and therefore enamoured of the 'simplistic stupidity', don't drag me down there. You never know what combination will show up in a google search.

If you do ever happen to meet up with a 'real' live fascist, who also happens to possess a degree of power, you will very soon be able to more properly differentiate from personal experience. And the chances are you won't be posting about it on some website.

Posted by: dougf at August 1, 2006 03:58 PM

"I stand by my wording: THE USA today CANNOT take on Iran. (I don't mean militarily). The US public opinion would not stand for it. Plain and simple. It would be political suicide for the Republicans, a few months before elections."

I don't wish to quibble over words, Bad, but one reason the US lacks the will to take on Iran is because of all the voices declaring that we lack the ability to do so. There are many voices on the left claiming we are pinned down and preoccupied in Iraq; it is a popular leftist claim that the reason the real war on terror is not being prosecuted is because Iraq drained away all the resources.

The fact of the matter is that we have 10% of our armed forces in Iraq. 10%. That is not insignificant, but it hardly leaves us defenseless. 90% of the US military is still an awesome force. Those who are pushing appeasement and diplomacy should not be allowed to get away with the canard that these are the only options. They are not.

As far as the political impact is concerned, I don’t necessarily read it the same way. Bush won the election in 2004 largely because people were convinced he was more likely to take action against our enemies than Kerry. Bush’s low poll numbers are not because Democrats that formerly supported him have changed their minds -- there are no such Democrats (well, one, Joe Lieberman, who is in the process of being driven from office by the leftist) -- rather, the drop in Bush’s numbers is at least partially due to dissatisfaction among Republicans that Bush has essentially gone as weak as John Kerry. He is now doing the things he accused Kerry of doing: kowtowing to international opinion and pursuing appeasement of Iran.

The American people did not vote for appeasement in 2004. They voted against it, narrowly, but against it. I don’t think they have changed their minds. In fact, I think they see that appeasement is largely responsible for the mess in Iraq.

"More of the same" is indeed a losing message for the Republicans. But switching to a more aggressive strategy that plays to our strengths and avoids the errors made in Iraq is not.

By the way, isn't it sad to see that the party that gave us Franklin Roosevelt, the man who stirred the nation to obliterate the Germans and the Japanese, and Harry Truman, who finished the job on the Japs and refused to let the commies have South Korea, and John Kennedy, who risked thermonuclear war to force Russian missiles out of Cuba -- can now give us only Howard Deans, John Kerry, Ted Kennedy, Nancy Pelosi, John Murtha, etc? Such is the affect of the intellectual's war against the west on the party that once was the backbone of the west.

Posted by: Michael Smith at August 1, 2006 05:05 PM

MS -

So now you've been to US Army War college?

You might want to check this link out...

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20060801/ap_on_go_ca_st_pe/combat_readiness;_ylt=ApLBiMrIyy7Ul.FSpxxMQ0Cs0NUE;_ylu=X3oDMTA3ODdxdHBhBHNlYwM5NjQ-

How about we deal with the REALITY of the situation, since the world is not a game of Risk.

Several friends of mine are on their 3rd tour of duty in Iraq, and each tour is extended at that... they are shattered... tired... beat to death... Each rotation worse than the last... Are you honestly suggesting that we can take on another campaign? Not to mention that Reserve and National Guard units are not meant for offensive warfare.

The only way we can start another war is if we have a draft. And if someone lends us the money to do it.

I don't know what alternate reality you live in, but our defenses are stretched to the breaking point (I know, company line: blame Clinton)...

And how do you expect to fund all of your military escapades? You realize the United States is dead broke right? You do realize that the moment our creditors start asking for their money back all hell will break loose right?
Look up Weimar Republic or Argentina in 2001... I'm not predicting those exact results, but folks, we can no longer ignore the elephant in the room.

Why did the Dept. of Treasury stop releasing the M3 (the money supply)? Because they are trying to cover it up... it is a whitewash... take a look at ® Rep. Ron Paul's website for further info... He is the only member of our government with the balls to admit what is actually going on...

Time to see the forest for the trees...

Do you honestly think Ben Bernanke can keep the Denver printing presses rolling 24/7 and no other nation will notice!? You think the answer will be to just go ahead and print more money!? And everyone else will be ok with that!? You think no one will care that the dollar isn't worth the paper it's printed on!?
The moment the dollar loses it's status as the world's reserve currency (and it will), and the means by which oil is purchased with we are FUCKED...
Iran wants to start an oil bourse in Euros... that couldn't be a reason for bombing them, could it? And how happy do you think the Chinese and Russians will be when we threaten their oil supply. Or should we bomb them too?

In short... they got us by the balls folks... wake up and smell the shit...

Notice how country after country is moving vast assets from dollars to euros? Oh that's right... that isn't mentioned on Fox News, MSNBC and CNN... just that you should buy more stocks and everything is looking peachy...

Sorry for going a bit off-topic here... But the reality is that it all comes down to one thing: MONEY. WAR is EXPENSIVE.

And let us not forget the fact that the rest of the world does not exactly love us right now... true, we are the world's mouth... but we are mass consumers using BORROWED money... which in turn also makes us the world's asshole.

Ask yourself, what does the drug dealer do when the addict runs out of money? He cuts him off.

It's quite simple economics - if you borrow money, eventually you have to pay it back... the way you pay it back is by engaging in trade... BY MAKING THINGS...

ooops... our manufacturing base has gone to the far east, along with our service industry...

You check the price of gold lately? Thank god I took a friend's advice and bought it while it was cheap... Why do you think the Russians and Chinese are buying loads of gold? They wouldn't want to fuck us now, would they?

Folks, this isn't your run-of-the-mill "the sky is falling" claptrap... just look at what hedge-funds are doing... speaking of which, why is so much smart money IN hedge funds?

I can already hear some of you dis-credit me as some left-wing kook... fine, you are entitled to your opinion... For all the gold (oops, all gone!!!) in Fort Knox, I hope I'm wrong... but do me a favor... ask your local real estate agent privately off-the-record how business is...

People with means (real means) see the coming storm and are preparing themselves for a major paradigm shift. I suggest you all do some research and cover your ass. I'm no Harvard economist, although several of them are saying EXACTLY what I'm saying...

We are hardly in the position to be taking on other wars when our coffers are empty... and they ARE EMPTY...

Or if we take MS's worldview, we could declare our creditors the great satan and nuke 'em... I spose that would erase the debt...

oh... and one last thing...

A friend of mine tells me that when they drag a terror suspect from his cell in Guantanimo, they yell "the dollar is dead"

gee, maybe they aren't so stupid after all.

Posted by: R. El Saghir at August 1, 2006 07:38 PM

Out of their own mouths.

Dr Ahmad Fatfat on the Middle East conflictIsrael, 2/8 Australian television.

Dr Fatfat, Israel had all the material to decide exactly where the bomb will go, whether they bomb exactly.. So they can do it against Hezbollah. But now they are doing a war against really against civilians without any arms.

DR AHMAD FATFAT: It's a very interesting question. Look, you have an occupied territory by Israel in Shebaa. They don't get out, they don't withdraw from it. We have three prisoners in Israel. One of them is still there for 29 years. You understand 29 years in the prison. All the days, all over the last month, the sovereignty of our space in air, in water, on the ground was affected by Israel. So why did we have to have the resistance? We not have the obligation to do the resistance to this all Israeli aggression. If they want peace, it is so easy. They can get out from Shebaa, they can liberate the prisoner, give us the plan and the map of the mine in Lebanon they put 10 years, more than 10 years, ago and they respect our sovereignty. In this case, it is so easy to control all of the border by the Israeli army and to have a real control and real sovereignty on Lebanon. Basically, they don't want peace. They really prefer this situation because they prefer to make a war against Lebanon, than to have it against Syria or against Iran.

TONY JONES: Dr Fatfat, it sounds like you are in fact supporting the offensive which began with Hezbollah rocket attacks on northern Israel. You describe that as resistance, do you?

DR AHMAD FATFAT: Sure because Israel is doing the same. Now any act of war against Israel is a act of resistance. It's a war. They impose - they want this war. We want peace, but they prefer to have war. It is a price of the war for everybody.

TONY JONES: But it does seem clear that in this case, this war began with Hezbollah bombing with its missiles Israeli cities. Now, you are part of the Lebanese Government. Under the UN Security Council Resolution 1559 under which the Syrian army was withdrawn from Lebanon, your government was obliged to actually disarm Hezbollah, but now you are telling us you actually support what they are doing.

DR AHMAD FATFAT: No, no. It is different. It is so different. We have, as I said, an occupied territory

And again

DR AHMAD FATFAT: No, no, no, not confusing. Until now - until we have occupied territory in Shebaa and we have prisoners, we have the obligation to have resistance. We cannot dismiss like that. We can not resign. What you are asking me is that you resign occupied territory with prisoners

TONY JONES: But, Dr Fatfat, it's pretty clear that up until now people have identified the Lebanese Government as being on one side and Hezbollah being on a side all of their own, operating a sort of state within a state inside Lebanon. You are saying they are in fact part of the same thing, that they are in a way connected, with an overall resistance against Israel which your government appears to support, if what you are saying is correct?

DR AHMAD FATFAT: I am saying so clearly until we have occupied territory in Shebaa, until we have prisoners, we need to have a resistance. We cannot dismiss - we cannot accept this situation. This is our general opinion in Lebanon. This is not the decision of our Government. As you know, Hezbollah is part of this Government. We have an agreement about it.

TONY JONES: We're nearly out of time, but let me just ask you this: how can you make peace with a neighbour that you are firing missiles at?

DR AHMAD FATFAT: It's not the planes - the bombing, the hitting of our houses, of our bridges, of our roads over years

Hizbollah isn’t the de facto government of Lebanon?

Posted by: Ros at August 1, 2006 10:21 PM

And then there is Ibrahim Mousawi in Beirut, foreign editor for Hezbollah TV, SBS television Auatralia 2/8

JENNY BROCKIE: Ibrahim Mousawi in Beirut, your foreign editor for Hezbollah TV, when Hezbollah kidnapped those Israeli soldiers and started this latest conflict, what was the aim, what was the idea?

IBRAHIM MOUSAWI, FOREIGN AFFAIRS EDITOR, AL-MANAR TV: Well actually I believe that there is a kind of misconception here, when you say that when Hezbollah started this thing. No Hezbollah did not start this thing, everybody knows that there are Lebanese hostages in the Israeli prisons. Everybody knows the Lebanese government, the Lebanese public and all the nation community, that Israel still occupies parts of Lebanon. The ministerial statement of the government of the cabinet in Lebanon that gained the confidence of the parliament, has provided that the Lebanese resistance is not a militia it is a legitimate resistance and it has the right to exercise its right of defending the people, liberating the occupied territory and to retrieve the Lebanese hostages and the Israeli prisoners.

JENNY BROCKIE:Ibrahim one of the arguments that has been used of course is that Hezbollah is using civilians as shields for its military operations, can you give a guarantee that that is not the case, we are hearing reports from reporters on the scene, who are saying that Hezbollah is active in civilian areas?

IBRAHIM MOUSAWI: This is very wrong, when you talk about Hezbollah you are not talking about a bunch of people you are talking about the people themselves, people that have turned themselves into an organisation called Hezbollah. So you are talking about the villagers who are fighting there in the south. The villagers are fighting, the sons of the villagers are fighting, you are talking about people who are living there, you cannot ….they are people of the south, they are people of Lebanon, Hezbollah constitutes the majority of the Shi’ite faction in Lebanon which comprises more or less 40% of the population. So you are not talking about taking the civilians, the civilians are fighting because they are under attack and they are under aggression, so when the Israelis use this line and say they don’t want to target the civilians, when they ask them to leave, this is a war crime to displace more than one million people from their villages.

So who are the non combatants in Lebanon. This sod considers all Shia at least, as fighters. So he hardly cares about them dying, martyrs all no doubt. And the idea that people should be allowed to make a choice is obviously unknown to him. And the Lebanese have decided this mob is their saviours.

And of course the yarn about Shaba Farms. Heard one of those present at the final negotiations for the withdrawal of Israel in 2000 on the rubbish of Lebanon’s ownership of Shaba Farms. Lebanon turned up with a map on which they had just drawn in heavy pen a new boundary for Lebanon, and declared it was an original map showing the true boundary of Lebanon.

Posted by: Ros at August 1, 2006 10:45 PM

R El Sighir:

As usual, your rant is long on assertions and accusations but utterly devoid of facts.

If you want to present a position and have it be anything other than an arbitrary outburst, you must provide some factual support. Thus, to support my contention that we can certainly support another offensive, I point out that we have only 10% of our military forces in Iraq.

This is a fact that can easily be checked by anyone. Go here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Military_of_the_United_States

You will see that we have 1,415,289 people in our armed forces. We have 130,000 in Iraq (a widely published number), so actually we have less than 10% of our forces there.

So, when I make an assertion I provide at least some factual basis for it -- some reason to believe that it might be true. And the nice thing about facts is that they can be objectively verified (or refuted if I am wrong).

I do not know and do not claim that the percentage of forces we have in Iraq is a complete and totally comprehensive way to evaluate what percentage of our combat power is tied up there. There may be other factors, such as logistical supply capacity, that is under more strain than the 10% number indicates. But at least I have advanced a fact that supports my contention.

By contrast, you give us nothing except assertion and unsupported opinion:

I don't know what alternate reality you live in, but our defenses are stretched to the breaking point

It is worth noting that this was one of the left’s arguments against the war in Iraq before we went in. So they are determined to make that argument against any proposed war, regardless of the facts.

Here are some facts:

We have 1,285,289 military personnel that are not in Iraq, along with thousands of fighter jets, hundreds of stealth and conventional bombers, thousands of tanks and armored personnel carriers, a fleet of aircraft carriers with hundreds of fighter/bomber aircraft and thousands of conventional and nuclear warheads, a fleet of dozens of ballistic missile submarines carrying hundreds of nuclear war heads and an array of hundreds of land-based ICBM missiles capable of delivering thousands of nuclear warheads. Do you honestly believe that such a force is incapable of inflicting a lethal blow to Iran? We could make Iran disappear overnight if we wished.

Yes, Clinton did draw down the military at a time when we should have been building it up. But that doesn’t mean we can’t take out Iran. We can.

The only way we can start another war is if someone lends us the money to do it.

Go back to that same wikipedia link and you will see that we are spending 3.7% of our GDP on the military. In WWII, we spent 37% of our GDP on defense. You can see this number on page 122 of the document here: http://www.whitehouse.gov/omb/budget/fy2007/pdf/hist.pdf

If we have spent as much as 37% of our GDP in the past without going bankrupt, surely we can spend a little more than the 3.7% we are spending now.

Our federal spending right now stands at $2.7 trillion dollars a year, of which $443 billion is going to defense. There is probably enough waste in the $2.26 trillion going into non-defense spending to finance 10 wars with Iran.

All you have done is swallow the talking points of the pacifists and appeasers without looking into the facts.

What is particularly puzzling is why you continue to post your emotional outbursts when you have previously declared that you do not know for a fact that you are right and would never maintain that you are. What, then, are you doing and why?

Posted by: Michael Smith at August 2, 2006 07:57 AM

Argh; computer glitch. Just as well, I guess; what I wrote amounted to this:

Michael, I am listening, and listening very carefully and analytically, to what you say, and recommend that others do, as well.

I just look at things from outside of the frame of reference you've adopted.

Short form: I hear what you're saying, but I think you -- and your Lebanese friends -- are tragically (in all senses) wrong.

Posted by: Joel Rosenberg at August 2, 2006 08:21 AM
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