August 03, 2006

Cross-posted at Instapundit

BELIEVE IT ONLY WHEN YOU SEE IT: Syria says it kinda sorta maybe, if it's not too much trouble and if they get something juicy for doing it, just might consider playing a "constructive role" in pressuring Hezbollah to agree to a ceasefire on Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Seniora's terms.

LEBANESE BLOGGER Josey Wales fisks the useless minister of the interior.

A PEACEKEEPING DREAM TEAM: Mustafa at Beirut Spring says the international peacekeepers Lebanese can trust most would come from Canada, Brazil, and Japan.

IRAN RATCHETS UP THE BELLICOSITY. Iran's Supreme Leader Khamenei: "The American regime can expect a resounding slap and a devastating fist-blow from the Muslim nation..."

LEE SMITH challenges the conventional wisdom that everyone in Lebanon loves Hezbollah now. “There are many Lebanese imagining, fantasizing, hoping against hope that Hezbollah will be wiped from the face of the earth.”

Lee is right. He and I both lived in Lebanon, and he lived there longer than I did. (He only left a few weeks ago.) Lebanon’s “support” for Hezbollah is nothing more than an attempt at national unity during a fight. It will evaporate the instant Israel leaves. It will remain, though, as long as Israel stays and throughout cease-fire talks.

Posted by Michael J. Totten at August 3, 2006 06:17 PM
Comments

“It will remain, though, as long as Israel stays and throughout cease-fire talks.”

Nope, I doubt this very much. Many Lebanese citizens are suffering from the Stockholm Syndrome. They will quickly recover once it’s clear Israel is winning. Hassan Nasrallah is already starting to wimp out. He’s raising the flag of surrender. The end is near. Hezbollah was counting on the “international community” to save it from the IDF. It didn’t expect President Bush to essentially give Israel the green light to continue fighting until Hezbollah is severely damaged.

Posted by: David Thomson at August 3, 2006 06:29 PM

For some of them it's Stockholm Syndrome. For others it's Arab- and Lebanese-nationalism: My brother and I against my cousin. My cousin and I against the world.

Read the blogs. You will see.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at August 3, 2006 06:41 PM

“Syria says it kinda sorta maybe, if it's not too much trouble and if they get something juicy for doing it, just might consider playing a "constructive role" in pressuring Hezbollah to agree to a ceasefire...”

I am a cynic with a vivid imagination. This is what I think the Syrians are actually saying in private:

“Damn it, things are really deteriorating. Those Hezbollah guys are getting their butts royally kicked. We have already given them a lot of money and support. Do they think the stuff grows on trees? There are, after all, limits to our generosity---to losers. We’ve got to find a way to get out of this mess while saving face. Yup. I’ve got. We must advocate peace for the sake of the children. Doesn’t that sound good?”

Posted by: David Thomson at August 3, 2006 06:42 PM

“Read the blogs. You will see.”

I don’t pay much attention to their explicit assertions. It is sometimes better to pretend that one is something of an amateur psychoanalyst. I’m convinced they will change their tune once it’s obvious that Israel is the winner. Nobody likes to be on the side of the losers.

Posted by: David Thomson at August 3, 2006 06:51 PM

Frankly if Syria could be 'purchased' and could be counted on to do the 'honourable' thing and stay bought, count me in.

As far as I am concerned Syria can be 'rewarded' quite freely as long as they tell that lunatic in Tehran to take a hike, and decide to mellow out a bit.

I'm sure that Israel would quite happily play ball with Damascus, should Assad decide to drop out of the Damascus-Beirut-Tehran axis of (fill in perjorative blank here).

Unhappily I don't see this happening, Syrian disinformation to the contrary. Anything short of a Damascus-Tehran disconnect is hardly worthwhile pursuing.

Posted by: dougf at August 3, 2006 06:52 PM

I believe there is no way the Japanese would be heading to Lebanon as part of a peacekeeping force. But I would definitely expect participation in humanitarian aid and logistical support. The Japanese just got out of Iraq and will take a breather on taking chances in hostile territory.

On the other hand, perhaps the South Koreans would consider moving their Iraq team there. Otherwise, I don't see any other Asian nations contributing in any significant way their military personnel.

Posted by: Shawn in Tokyo at August 3, 2006 06:55 PM

It will remain, though, as long as Israel stays and throughout cease-fire talks..

It could also be safer. They know the Israelis are not going to take over the entire country and start rounding up Lebanese who sided with Hzb. Back Hzb in case they win. That poll you answered supporting the Israelis may lead to a knock on your door someday.

Posted by: Joe Marino at August 3, 2006 07:20 PM

Even if Hezbollah is eliminated as a threat to Israel, do you really think the newly humiliated Shia will just roll over and play nice with Lebanese Sunni and Christians? Do you really think the Iranian influence will suddenly be neutralized? I have my doubts that Hezbollah will be defeated to the level that all other factors being optimal will allow this to happen. But I'm no expert on internal Lebanese wranglings...

And when exactly is Lee Smith's "forthcoming book on Arab culture" going to materialize? It's been forever already! :) (Smith's Slate readers may get the reference to his articles' tagline)

Posted by: Josh at August 3, 2006 07:25 PM

Michael,
You like Lebanon. You have a stupid Lib/Left view of the world. Kill JIHADISTS and ISLAM. One and the same. Got questions? Ask Spencer @ JIHADWATCH.COM
Your Mutli-culti world is a FRAUD. Ask BRUCE BAWER!

Posted by: jrdroll at August 3, 2006 07:32 PM

jrdroll is banned for trolling.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at August 3, 2006 07:39 PM

Michael:
This is just a guess but the first thing,no doubt just the first in a long line of requests, that Syria would want is an end to all investigations pertaining to all the political assasinations they conducted during their "brotherly" occupation of Lebanon. How would the non-Hezbollah portion of Lebanon react? Tough choice, being forced to choose between justice or peace.

Posted by: kevin peters at August 3, 2006 07:43 PM

I read with some amusement Mustapha's entry on whom he'd like to see come in as his peace-keepers. Who's acceptable and who's not. Amusement that verged on anger as I couldn't help but notice the picture he chose of himself to accompany his blog. Pretty much sums up the whole situation. I can imagine your friend Lebanon P. sitting besides him, chatting up the revolution. Is grow-up!!, too harsh?

Posted by: nicky at August 3, 2006 07:49 PM

Nicky,

He's not talking about who he personally wants to see. If that were the case, I would not have bothered linking to his post. He's talking about what the majority of Lebanese, across all sects including Shia, could accept.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at August 3, 2006 08:02 PM

Found the Emirati's summing up on this tragedy quite good.

http://aethoughts.blogspot.com/

“I blame the Palestinians who still sit at their Airconditioned homes in Abu Dhabi, sipping on their starbucks telling other people to go fight Israel and America while their families are murdered in the Gaza strip. I blame the Lebanese for hightailing out of Lebanon in the hundreds of thousands, and not having the courage to kick out Hezbollah. I blame the monkey in Iran and the Giraffe in Syria for using Hezbollah for its own goals. I blame the Prostitute Financing Al Saud government with not sharing its people's outrage at the situation in Lebanon by trying to act as a NATO member and the Fat Bastard Mubarak acting like he has fuck all to do with these problems and that Egypts only goals should be to protect Italian and German Budget Tourists while the cracker in chief of Jordan sends a token C'130 loaded with some shitty supplies and the rest of the arabs 'condemn' this whole operation. Which is the only thing they of course can do. I hope you can condemn the eventual rape and decapitation of your descendants. I hope you can condemn it when youve used the greatest resource in the history of the world to produce apartment blocks, rusting stockpiles of unmaintainable fighter jets and old BMWs and villas in the French Riviera. I hope you can also condemn the screams of your crying children when your countries cannot import enough food to feed their populace.

The Last Person I blame or Condemn for this mess is an Israeli.”

Posted by: Ros at August 3, 2006 08:28 PM

Geez jrdoll, what a rant. Don't use caps lock and exclamation marks like that, it makes you look really nuts.

Posted by: Jono at August 3, 2006 08:40 PM
"Lebanon’s “support” for Hezbollah is nothing more than an attempt at national unity during a fight. It will evaporate the instant Israel leaves. It will remain, though, as long as Israel stays and throughout cease-fire talks."

Pity that. When has Israel ever in history threatened the cedars of Lebanon for no good reason, save for self defense? I don't get it, Michael. The Lebanese have always been arrogant, blowhard chest-beaters without a cause. They have cast their lot with the devil. And now we're playin' games with what constitutes a real "devil."

I don't feel for the Lebanese like you do, Michael, though I'd like to. I really think they could rise above their predicament if they really wanted to. But they don't. They love their coy position in the gutter of Arab stupidity. It makes them feel brave while their brains are checked in neutral. They are liberal to the core. Utterly phony, yet ultimately secure in the truth that history always treats idiots well.

Posted by: Marc S. Lamb at August 3, 2006 08:47 PM

Ros,

It's always been America's policy that our interests are best served when a small, corrupt group controls the vast oil reserves of the Gulf states instead of the "people."

We went the same route when we took over Iraq.

Instead of dividing the oil wealth of that country equally among its citizens, we put Ahmad Chalabi in charge of the Oil Ministry.

I don't agree with the policy, but you can't blame the beneficiaries of it. French villas and Ferarris are hard to turn down...

Posted by: monkyboy at August 3, 2006 09:14 PM

"I believe there is no way the Japanese would be heading to Lebanon as part of a peacekeeping force"

I swear I read a conspiracy theory from Lebanon about Japan at one point on this website. Something about Japan's colonial interest in the cedar revolution. Does anyone have any idea what I am typing about or am I crazy?

"Istead of dividing the oil wealth of that country equally among its citizens, we put Ahmad Chalabi in charge of the Oil Ministry."

WTF?:)?

Posted by: mike at August 3, 2006 09:23 PM

I don't agree with the policy, but you can't blame the beneficiaries of it.
French villas and Ferarris are hard to turn down...

monkyboy,
Take Kofi Annan's picture off your bedroom ceiling.

Posted by: Stephen_M at August 3, 2006 09:35 PM

Instead of dividing the oil wealth of that country equally among its citizens, we put Ahmad Chalabi in charge of the Oil Ministry.--Guess Who ?

Now look what happened. I was just about to comment on MB's exquisite analysis when I remembered someone's advice not to encourage him at all.

So I refrained, and Mike & Stephen got to put the boots in instead.

I feel ---- cheated .

MB I sincerely do hope that you are just a rather annoying 'troll' with an 'unusual' sense of humour. The alternative explanation, namely that you actually believe this stuff, is frankly too depressing to be viable.

Please say it's all just a joke. Please ?

Posted by: dougf at August 3, 2006 09:46 PM

Given that the UN force is going to do nothing but provoke outrage when it gets accidentally shot at by the people on the other side of the border, why doesn't Israel invite them to stay on its side? They'll be as unable to stop anti-Hizbollah raids as they were to stop anti-Israel activity, Hizb would have one less thing to hide behind, and maybe world opinion would be swayed a bit if the blue helmets were targets of the katyushas.

Posted by: bgates at August 3, 2006 09:47 PM

Which part don't you believe, dougf?

That America had the power to divide the drilling rights to Iraq's 125 billion barrels of proved oil reserves equally among the citizens of that country?

Or that we actually let a guy like Chalabi run the Iraq Oil Ministry?

http://tinyurl.com/ddq96

Or don't you believe that French villas and Ferarris are hard to turn down?

Posted by: monkyboy at August 3, 2006 09:53 PM

They'll be as unable to stop anti-Hizbollah raids as they were to stop anti-Israel activity, Hizb would have one less thing to hide behind, and maybe world opinion would be swayed a bit if the blue helmets were targets of the katyushas.--bgates

That is actually an excellent, if never to be enacted, idea. The only problem that I can see is that the 'World' would then more likely just blame Israel for putting the poor souls in danger by not protecting them from the incoming rockets.

I just can't 'see' this UN mandated force actually ever doing anything, that has not already actually been done. If Israel manages to weaken Hezbollah enough to prevent all but a very few scattered attacks, then why do we need a UN force ? If not, then what exactly is a UN force going to do ? It sure is not going to confront ANYONE. Maybe it could hold meetings all day long and tie Hezbollah up in the red-tape.

I confess to not being all that 'sophisticated' but I don't get it. Can someone explain it to me ,preferably in smallish words.

Posted by: dougf at August 3, 2006 09:59 PM

My brother and I against my cousin. My cousin and I against the world.

In other words: "who whom". Hizballah can shoot rockets from the roofs of apartment buildings. When Israel returns fire, it's genocide.

This guy thinks the "who whom" attitude is the root problem in the Middle East, including Lebanon, and there's no foreseeable peace-scenario because there's no end to this attitude on the horizon. In order for peace to happen, people have to care about their country more than who is doing what to whom.

Michael, do you think that the Lebanese are capable of getting past "who whom"? You have stated many times that your dream is for Lebanon and Israel to cooperate against the rest of the Middle East - this has been the dream of Israeli leaders at least since Ben Gurion. But the Lebanese have always turned down this option. Evidently "who whom" beats peace and democracy, even in Lebanon.

(I know you're going to say something like "it's going to be harder now", but I mean this as a theoretical question. The ease with which Lebanon has slipped back into overt "who whom" talk tells me that it was never very deep to begin with, and probably just a veneer. It has to be much deeper than that to maintain a free nation against the Middle East odds. If it weren't the Israelis, it'd be the Syrians - who were definitely plotting to disrupt free Lebanon - or someone else.)

Posted by: Yafawi at August 3, 2006 10:32 PM

Yafawi,

Lebanon will be the first Arab country to snap out of this stupidity. But it will not happen until it is solidly democratic and at peace (or at least armistice) with Israel.

Someone in Israel (I forget who) threatened to set back Lebanon by 20 years. Well, that's exactly what happened.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at August 3, 2006 10:38 PM

Also, Lebanon will snap partially out of this stupid mode of thinking the instant Israel withdraws. But then there is another stupid local kind of thinking - the sectarian kind - that will kick in with full force. We'll see how that goes. Just about anything could happen.

Lebanon is a beautiful and wonderful place. But, oh man, does it have its demons. Most were locked in the basement for a while, but they're coming out again now.

It might be okay. And it might be real ugly. Someone in these comments, a Lebanese, mentioned AK-47s and jumper cables.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at August 3, 2006 10:43 PM

Michael,

Are you saying Kuwait, Qatar, U.A.E. and Bahrain are engaged in some kind of stupidity? They seem like they are peaceful and nice places to live...particularly Dubai.

Posted by: monkyboy at August 3, 2006 10:47 PM

I swear I read a conspiracy theory from Lebanon about Japan at one point on this website. Something about Japan's colonial interest in the cedar revolution. Does anyone have any idea what I am typing about or am I crazy?

Conspiracy theory can be entertaining, but too much of it rots the brain.

There are some Japanese expat communities in South America. I am not aware of any in the middle east- it's just not their kind of neighborhood, much too voliatile. The Japanese tend to do that kind of thing in places where wars are a distant memory, not a current event.

Posted by: rosignol at August 3, 2006 10:50 PM

Monkyboy,

Lebanon also was a peaceful and nice place to live. I ought to know. I lived there.

Arab Nationalism, mixed with tribal/sectarian thinking, affects every Arab country to one degree or another. It's worse in some places than in other places, but it's everywhere.

Lebanese were doing a pretty good job burying this kind of thinking. But trauma brings it all back to the surface.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at August 3, 2006 10:55 PM

Lebanon also has lots and lots of liberals. This is how they feel right now.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at August 3, 2006 11:02 PM

Michael,

I don't doubt Lebanon was a nice place to live. Even in the shots of rockets launching and bombs falling, the beauty of the country shows through.

I was refering to your line Lebanon will be the first Arab country to snap out of this stupidity.

Dubai seems to be doing quite well these day, it attracts the world's wealthiest citizens...and you can spot people like George Lucas at the Bahrain Formula One race...

Posted by: monkyboy at August 3, 2006 11:11 PM

Monkyboy,

Do you really think that if you talk to Arabs in Bahrain and Dubai that you won't detect any tribal or Arab nationalist thinking? Come on.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at August 3, 2006 11:20 PM

Michael,

I don't think you can ever get rid of that kind of thinking. America still has a very nasty racist undercurrent, but life here is quite pleasant for most Americans.

Isn't that the goal?

To be able to live in peace and earn a decent living?

Posted by: monkyboy at August 3, 2006 11:26 PM

Israel faces a choice : end Hizbollah and their little rockets now, or face them in 5 years re-grouped and re-armed with WMD and nuclear weapons, under 'UN' protection.

It really is as simple as that, so I for one hope that Israel totally ignores the unelected bureaucrats of the UN and EU, secretly advise their allies that this is a fight for the survival of the Israeli state, and instruct the IDF to keep going into Syria and take down Assad, totally isolating Iran.

Posted by: TD at August 3, 2006 11:31 PM

ros, it was the king of crazy theory or possibly a joke, but the guy blamed every problem in Lebanon on the Japanese and it was hilarious.

Posted by: mike at August 3, 2006 11:32 PM

The only reason Syria would agree to get HIzbollah out of the fight is that Hizbollah is being crushed, and Assad wants to save Syria's proxy without losing face by their cowardly refusal to come to Hizbollah's aid. Of course the EU either is too stupid, or just doesn't care, that Syria would then re-establish HIzbollah as a fighting force for the next war against Israel. Assad knows HIzbollah's days are numbered and he is usning the time honoured trick of using the UN and EU to get out of jail.

Not this time, pal.

In fact the best outcome would be for the EU and 'international community' to work together to ensure that terrorist groups like Hizbollah and their backers - Syria and Iran - are disarmed : permanently. Of course I am daydreaming that a bureaucratic group of unelected, morally craven officials would have this much backbone so as always it will ultimately fall to Israel, the USA and probably the UK , Canada and Australia.

Save Hizbollah in return for a false peace? Let's hope that Israel doesn't fall for that one. I hope that Israel has learned a mighty lesson from this war, which is that it is folly for nation states to entrust their security to non-state actors such as the UN or EU.

I pray for Israel in the days ahead and hope that Narallah and his other Hizbollah rats are mercilessly decimated. Then on to Damascus.

And screw the EU.

Posted by: TD at August 3, 2006 11:50 PM

Lebanon's "support" for Hezbollah is nothing more than an attempt at national unity during a fight. It will evaporate the instant Israel leaves.

Smith's article makes it sound like there isn't much (or: as much as suspected) support for Hezb'Allah right now, despite the fighting. This seems more plausible to me. The fickle-support theory posits quite a bit of density to the population, does it not?

Smith also makes a good point, that Bush isn't very good a identifying (much less creating) governments which support political freedom.

Posted by: Brad W at August 4, 2006 01:18 AM

Lebanon will be the first Arab country to snap out of this stupidity. But it will not happen until it is solidly democratic and at peace (or at least armistice) with Israel.

It seems to me that giving up "who whom" is a prerequisite to democracy and peace. If the Lebanese were to give up "who whom" than this is what would happen:

At the end of the current conflict Lebanon signs a peace treaty with Israel in which Israel withdraws, and Lebanon accepts Israel's (and third parties') help in deploying the Lebanese Army to the border, and rebuilding infrastructure.

Of course, that won't happen, because the Lebanese care more about "who whom" than about their country. They'll just blame the Israelis for not caring about their country, instead of admitting that they don't care all that much about their country themselves.

From Israel's point of view, this is like the age-old debate about what to do with criminals. Punish them, or rehabilitate them? Usually after trying to rehabilitate them for a while, people give up and punish them. Then the criminals (or their self-appointed "supporters") complain "you've destroyed all the progress we were making!" Well, if your problem causes you to kill me, after a while I'll lose patience with you.

I'm not saying Israel is right or wrong from a practical point of view. Honestly, I don't know. But I do think their reaction is legitimate.

Posted by: Yafawi at August 4, 2006 03:38 AM

Iran's Supreme Leader Khamenei: "The American regime can expect a resounding slap and a devastating fist-blow from the Muslim nation..."

He is going to find out soon the hard way there is not just one muslim nation, but several muslim nations. Coming soon, the great sunni-shia war. It already started in Iraq. Iran (Shia) is getting too aggressive for its Sunni neighbors, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and also Egypt and Turkey. Let's not forget that Turkey is an ally of Israel and almost went to war against Syria a few years ago. The Turks (Sunni) could enter Iraq to subdue the Kurds and give the Shia a beating. None of this is good for peace, but tough boy "supreme" Khamenei has it coming.

Posted by: NoSleep at August 4, 2006 04:11 AM

And if you say that the problem is Syria, I say that Syria only has power in Lebanon because of "who whom". Israel + Lebanon can keep Syria out, if Lebanon cooperates. But it won't.

Posted by: Yafawi at August 4, 2006 04:16 AM

Lebanon's "support" for Hezbollah is nothing more than an attempt at national unity during a fight. It will evaporate the instant Israel leaves.

Oh, I see how this works. Lebanese support for Hezbollah, caused by Israel's invasion, will "evaporate" once Israel withdraws -- but Lebanese hatred of Israel, caused by Israel's invasion, will remain, thus setting things back by 25 years.

So this is the reasoning by which you excuse the Lebanese people for supporting a group of murderous totalitarians -- by claiming that it is a temporary and "understandable" reaction -- yet condemn Israel for acting in self defense -- by claiming they've earned the enduring hatred of people who previously liked them.

The puzzling thing is this: if the Lebanese people are this irrational, why do you value them so?

Posted by: Michael Smith at August 4, 2006 04:56 AM

Yo Senor Michael Smith:

Until you have lived through your country being bombarded for a month, with 500 pound bombs falling 2 miles from your house and terrifying your young children, and the reconstruction effort of the last 15 years wiped out, you shouldn't claim to be a great reader of the Lebanese psyche. It is easy to be a clever internet man sitting in New York or California or wherever you are. Enjoy your sunny peaceful weekend.

Posted by: NoSleep at August 4, 2006 05:13 AM

Aptly named monkeyboy said:

America still has a very nasty racist undercurrent, but life here is quite pleasant for most Americans.

Your tactic is to casually toss out the most damning of accusations against America, generally with no supporting evidence, as if the accusations were self-evident and axiomatic. They are not; nothing beyond the perceptual level is self-evident.

The rules of rational epistemology place the burden of proof on the person making the positive assertion. Absent any proof or evidence, your assertions have no more validity than the utterings of a parrot.

Having said that, I will help you out by offering some evidence of a "nasty racial undercurrent" in America. I offer as evidence the statements and actions of blacks such as Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackon and Cynthia McKinney, who make careers out of promoting the thoroughly racist notion that whites are inherently bigoted and blacks will always need protection from them. They are doing everything in their power to keep racism alive and well. So there is some racism for you -- though I suspect that is not what you had in mind.

Posted by: Michael Smith at August 4, 2006 05:44 AM

no sleep said:
Until you have lived through your country being bombarded for a month, with 500 pound bombs falling 2 miles from your house and terrifying your young children, and the reconstruction effort of the last 15 years wiped out, you shouldn't claim to be a great reader of the Lebanese psyche

I have made no claims about the "Lebanese psyche". I am only exploring Mr. Totten's premises and conclusions. It is he who claims that the "Lebanses psyche" is such that the support for Hezbulloh is merely temporary while the hatred for Israel will be lasting. Those are his conclusions, not mine.

However, I will add that I disagree with the general notion that one may not judge others until one has been in their situation.

Posted by: Michael Smith at August 4, 2006 05:58 AM

Lebanon’s “support” for Hezbollah is nothing more than an attempt at national unity during a fight. It will evaporate the instant Israel leaves. It will remain, though, as long as Israel stays and throughout cease-fire talks.

So? As it stands now, as soon as Israel leaves Hezbollah's toughs will re-emerge to terrorize the rest of Lebanon, imposing its will upon others. What will it matter if "support" dries up as long as Hezbollah can use its might to crush others? Lebanon couldn't disarm Hezb before the current war; how could it do so after?

Is their any way out for Lebanon other than to team up with Israel to disarm Hezbollah entirely?

Posted by: Solomon2 at August 4, 2006 06:50 AM

Today's news:

Israeli troops still battling in the very same villages as they were on the first days of the incursion and in some cases right smack on the border, according to the Washington Post. Nothing at all has been secured in Lebanon. Zilch.

Moreover, Nasrallah says that the command-and-control structure right down to the firing of all the individual rockets is intact. He is proven right by the fact that, when Israel resumed its bombing, the rockets into Israel resumed full force. No degradation of Hezbollah as a fighting force.

So, what have the Israelis achieved so far against the "incompetent" Hezbollah? Nothing at all. They are up against the best fighting force the Middle East has ever seen and it's stopped them cold. If they are made to cease this week, it will be the first war Israel has definitively lost to the Arabs.

Oh, but they're bombing Jouniyeh, an exclusively Christian and mostly Maronite area. And they've bombed all the bridges in the north, where there are practically no Shiites, only Sunni and Christians. This will stop the donkeys from bringing in more Katyushas for sure. How to win friends and influence people....

Very, very foolish adventure. It's done more to harm Israel than anything Hezbollah could have wished for. Keep your cool and restrain yourself. Do only what's useful. Don't let your enemy make you angry, so that you lash out and expend your energy uselessly. These are the rules in any kind of fight and Hezbollah has made the Israelis forget them. But Hezbollah is following these rules.

And you think the Lebanese will quickly turn against Hezbollah? When tiny Lebanon will have done what Egypt, Syria, Jordan together with their millions and millions never could: beaten the Israelis?

Posted by: Jeff at August 4, 2006 07:00 AM

Michael Smith:
"However, I will add that I disagree with the general notion that one may not judge others until one has been in their situation."

So do I, but you were doing more than judging. In your sentence "if the Lebanese people are this irrational, why do you value them so?" you weren't just saying that in your opinion they were wrong. You were implying that 1) you speak for the voice of reason and 2) that irrational people are of no value. In the first case, a person who doesn't know you (and probably many who do) is entitled to some skepticism. In the second case, this is a tough, very tough standard by which most should hope to never be judged. I suppose you live in a flawlessly rational way and condemn as worthless those around you who have rationality lapses?

Posted by: NoSleep at August 4, 2006 07:00 AM

Jeff

Can I have some of what you're smoking? Your main comments:

1. Nothing at all has been secured in Lebanon. Zilch.

This absurd and a good reason to stop believing what you read in The Washington Post. The ground invasion has only just begun, the air force is still prepping the battlefield, countless Hizbollah fighters are dead and Nasrallah is hiding, desperatley hoping for a ceasefire. The momentum is with Israel.

2. No degradation of Hezbollah as a fighting force.

You believe Nasrallah, the latest Arab champion? I pity you. Anyway your comment above is dumb. It is one thing to fire little rockets from urban areas, quite another to be called an effective 'fighting force'. Sure they put up a fight, but Hizbollah as an armed force ended last week.

3. So, what have the Israelis achieved so far against the "incompetent" Hezbollah? Nothing at all. They are up against the best fighting force the Middle East has ever seen and it's stopped them cold. If they are made to cease this week, it will be the first war Israel has definitively lost to the Arabs.

Jeff - perhaps you need some rest. Check the web - the IDF are advancing across southern Lebanon and even raided Baalbek. And have no fear - the Israelis wont stop this fight until its over.

4. Oh, but they're bombing Jouniyeh, an exclusively Christian and mostly Maronite area. And they've bombed all the bridges in the north, where there are practically no Shiites, only Sunni and Christians. This will stop the donkeys from bringing in more Katyushas for sure. How to win friends and influence people....

Jeff, is it possible that Hizbollah, a terrorist group that uses civilian shields, would seek refuge in these areas? Just a teensy weensy bit possible?? Stuck on stupid...

5. Very, very foolish adventure. It's done more to harm Israel than anything Hezbollah could have wished for. Keep your cool and restrain yourself. Do only what's useful. Don't let your enemy make you angry, so that you lash out and expend your energy uselessly. These are the rules in any kind of fight and Hezbollah has made the Israelis forget them. But Hezbollah is following these rules.

OK now I am convinced that you are joking. Yes, this was a foolish venture - for Hizbollah, Iran and Syria. Israel is only at 15% capacity and the Yanks havent joined in yet.

6. And you think the Lebanese will quickly turn against Hezbollah? When tiny Lebanon will have done what Egypt, Syria, Jordan together with their millions and millions never could: beaten the Israelis?

I think I need a drink. I have a headache. Jeff - time to wake up and smell the coffee, man.

Posted by: TD at August 4, 2006 08:50 AM

Jeff

Can I have some of what you're smoking? Your main comments:

1. Nothing at all has been secured in Lebanon. Zilch.

This absurd and a good reason to stop believing what you read in The Washington Post. The ground invasion has only just begun, the air force is still prepping the battlefield, countless Hizbollah fighters are dead and Nasrallah is hiding, desperatley hoping for a ceasefire. The momentum is with Israel.

2. No degradation of Hezbollah as a fighting force.

You believe Nasrallah, the latest Arab champion? I pity you. Anyway your comment above is dumb. It is one thing to fire little rockets from urban areas, quite another to be called an effective 'fighting force'. Sure they put up a fight, but Hizbollah as an armed force ended last week.

3. So, what have the Israelis achieved so far against the "incompetent" Hezbollah? Nothing at all. They are up against the best fighting force the Middle East has ever seen and it's stopped them cold. If they are made to cease this week, it will be the first war Israel has definitively lost to the Arabs.

Jeff - perhaps you need some rest. Check the web - the IDF are advancing across southern Lebanon and even raided Baalbek. And have no fear - the Israelis wont stop this fight until its over.

4. Oh, but they're bombing Jouniyeh, an exclusively Christian and mostly Maronite area. And they've bombed all the bridges in the north, where there are practically no Shiites, only Sunni and Christians. This will stop the donkeys from bringing in more Katyushas for sure. How to win friends and influence people....

Jeff, is it possible that Hizbollah, a terrorist group that uses civilian shields, would seek refuge in these areas? Just a teensy weensy bit possible?? Stuck on stupid...

5. Very, very foolish adventure. It's done more to harm Israel than anything Hezbollah could have wished for. Keep your cool and restrain yourself. Do only what's useful. Don't let your enemy make you angry, so that you lash out and expend your energy uselessly. These are the rules in any kind of fight and Hezbollah has made the Israelis forget them. But Hezbollah is following these rules.

OK now I am convinced that you are joking. Yes, this was a foolish venture - for Hizbollah, Iran and Syria. Israel is only at 15% capacity and the Yanks havent joined in yet.

6. And you think the Lebanese will quickly turn against Hezbollah? When tiny Lebanon will have done what Egypt, Syria, Jordan together with their millions and millions never could: beaten the Israelis?

I think I need a drink. I have a headache. Jeff - time to wake up and smell the coffee, man.

Posted by: TD at August 4, 2006 08:51 AM

OT - Unintended irony of the week:

PJ Media Headline - Iran races to resupply Hezbollah ahead of possible ceasefire

Links to
http://www.nysun.com/article/37347

Where the ad next to the headline is

"Toyota Time - Hurry, when times runs out, so does your chance to save"

Complete with picture of winding road thru brown hills.

Posted by: jdwill at August 4, 2006 09:11 AM

Michael Smith: So this is the reasoning by which you excuse the Lebanese people for supporting a group of murderous totalitarians -- by claiming that it is a temporary and "understandable" reaction -- yet condemn Israel for acting in self defense -- by claiming they've earned the enduring hatred of people who previously liked them.

I'm not excusing the Lebanese, and I'm not condemning Israel.

I'm explaining the Lebanese, and I suggested Israel deal with Syria instead.

Syria will just re-arm Hezbollah when this is over unless Syria gets knee-capped or at least severely threatened. Instead, Israel pinky swears they will leave Syria alone and desperately wants Bashar to remain the boss.

I think it's stupid. Your mileage may vary.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at August 4, 2006 09:56 AM

Solomon: Is their any way out for Lebanon other than to team up with Israel to disarm Hezbollah entirely?

Yes. Carve Hezbollah off from Syria and Iran forever. This is much easier to accomplish than the destruction of Hezbollah on a Lebanese battlefield. Donald Rumsfeld once said if you have a problem that you can't solve, enlarge it. This would be a good time to do that.

Assad and the ayatollahs are much easier to subdue. You don't have to destroy them to do it. Just kneecap them and threaten to ramp it up until they stop. They will stop because they want to survive in power. They do not want to be reduced to guerilla movements.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at August 4, 2006 10:02 AM

MJT Donald Rumsfeld once said if you have a problem that you can't solve, enlarge it.

That sound vaguely dangerous in this regional scenario.

Posted by: jdwill at August 4, 2006 10:31 AM

Let me drop this one. Do you think that the underlying issues at play here can really be addressed long-term without redrawing the map of the region? I'm just thinking out loud here, but given the seeming interrelatedness of everything, I really wonder...

Posted by: Josh at August 4, 2006 10:47 AM

What is "Carve Hezbollah off from Syria and Iran forever"?

Posted by: Johnny Eck at August 4, 2006 11:47 AM

Michael is spot on - Syria needs to be brought down immediately. I assume that Israel is waiting for Hizbollah to do something stupid, like firing a missile into Tel Aviv. They are searching for a pretext to go against Syria, when in fact they dont need one.

The Lebanese are naturally furious with Israel - and hizbollah - for this mess. However if Israel moves against Syria, they will start to see the fight in its real terms and I think would probably quietly support the action. A move against Syria sends the Lebanese the message that ' we are terribly sorry about what happened in your country, but unfortunately for our own existence we needed to take out Hizbollah and we are now moving against their patron state.'

I think Hizbollah has been very badly degraded by the Israeli response to the kidnapping of their soldiers, as well as 6 years of provocation. I also think Israel will never again trust the UN with theirborder security. However it is now clear that leaving Lebanon in ruins with Assad still in power, and Nasrallah alive, will not be a great outcome for Israel.

I actually think Olmert has performed reasonably well. Israel has actually won this fight, but not the war. It seems pretty obvious to me that both Syria and Iran have lost this fight and have sent out the message to Nasrallah to keep his head down, get the ceasefire and then use the next decade to regroup and rearm. This worries me greatly and is a terrible outcome for Israel.

For the reasons above I hope that Israel takes a big breath and takes this fight to Assad, and brings him down.

Posted by: TD at August 4, 2006 11:47 AM

If the pessimists are right - Israel is not and will not make progress - then the Israelis waited to long to go in or never should have left. How would they be viewed had they chose either of those options? Hzb will get stronger, not weaker.

Posted by: Joe Marino at August 4, 2006 12:00 PM

Syria (and Iran) will receive more than just a "knee-capping". Be patient.

Posted by: redaktor at August 4, 2006 12:06 PM

good god...

http://www.rawstory.com/news/2006/Ambassador_claims_shortly_before_invasion_Bush_0804.html

Posted by: R. El Saghir at August 4, 2006 12:18 PM

NoSleep said:

So do I, but you were doing more than judging. In your sentence "if the Lebanese people are this irrational, why do you value them so?" you weren't just saying that in your opinion they were wrong. You were implying that 1) you speak for the voice of reason and 2) that irrational people are of no value. In the first case, a person who doesn't know you (and probably many who do) is entitled to some skepticism. In the second case, this is a tough, very tough standard by which most should hope to never be judged. I suppose you live in a flawlessly rational way and condemn as worthless those around you who have rationality lapses?

You are committing two logical fallacies here.

The first is your implication that only those who live in a flawlessly rational way are able to (or entitled to?) assess the rationality of others, and that until a person proves their perfect rationality, one is entitled to be skeptical of the truth of that person’s statements.

This is the logical fallacy of ad hominem, which attempts to refute an argument by attacking the character of the person presenting the argument.

The second is your attempt to suggest that I regard all irrational people -- no matter how small their “rationality lapse” -- as being of no value. That is the logical fallacy of the straw man argument, which consists of distorting or misrepresenting an opponent’s argument into something you can refute, then offering that refutation as if you had refuted the actual argument.

To be rational is to operate in accordance with reason. To be irrational is to operate against reason. Whether or not an irrational person is of value depends on the degree and subject of their irrationality.

For instance, belief in god is inherently irrational inasmuch as it requires the suspension of reason and the embrace of faith. Is this bad? Yes. Do I condemn it? Yes. Does it necessarily make the billions of people on earth who believe in god “worthless“? Certainly not, because many are able to compartmentalize this belief so that they can be rational in most other aspects of their life.

In the case at hand, the people of Lebanon are described as being able to turn their allegiance to Hezbullah on and off depending on whether or not Israel is attacking Lebanon. Since the moral status of Hezbullah is not affected by what Israel does -- that is, since they are what they are independent of Israel‘s actions -- it is irrational to base one’s judgment of them on Israel‘s actions. Note that contrary to your straw man argument, I did not say this made the people of Lebanon of no value. I merely asked why Mr. Totten seems to value them so highly.

Posted by: Michael Smith at August 4, 2006 12:29 PM

I wonder how many Hzb fighters escape death when the Israelis drop leaflets warning civilians of a coming attack.

I wonder too, if these same Hzb fighters live to launch rockets and kill Israeli civilians.

I also wonder if these same Hzb fighters are laughing as they grap their rockets and get out of the way. "Thanks for the heads up"

Posted by: Joe Marino at August 4, 2006 12:40 PM

the people of Lebanon are described as being able to turn their allegiance to Hezbullah on and off depending on whether or not Israel is attacking Lebanon. Since the moral status of Hezbullah is not affected by what Israel does -- that is, since they are what they are independent of Israel‘s actions -- it is irrational to base one’s judgment of them on Israel‘s actions.

Yes, but the Lebanese seem to have fallen for Hezbollah's gambit. Just look at Perpetual Refugee. Deep down, the "Arab" shame and pride factors overwhelm the "Western" ones of guilt, logic, and natural good feelings towards one's neighbors. That was probably a danger Hezbollah saw all along, and one of the reasons why they initiated the conflict in the first place: folks like PR were getting too comfortable with the "enemy".

Finally: it's much easier to throw your hat in with Hezbollah when the penalty for not doing so may be summary execution, isn't it? Better to stand up with "pride" for the Hezbollah you can't do anything about than reject them and risk the bullet, or even to be exposed to "shame" by the Hezb-dominated community.

Posted by: Solomon2 at August 4, 2006 12:50 PM

Solomon2
It's much easier to throw your hat in with Hzb when the penalty for not doing so might be summary execution...

And its safer in Europe as a journalist or cartoonist to critisize Israel than Hmas/Hzb or Islamism in general.

Posted by: Joe Marino at August 4, 2006 01:02 PM

I'm not excusing the Lebanese, and I'm not condemning Israel.

I'm explaining the Lebanese, and I suggested Israel deal with Syria instead.

Fair enough. Understood.

Syria will just re-arm Hezbollah when this is over unless Syria gets knee-capped or at least severely threatened. Instead, Israel pinky swears they will leave Syria alone and desperately wants Bashar to remain the boss.

I think it's stupid. Your mileage may vary.

I quite agree. As long as Iran and Syria remain untouched, nothing will be settled and Hezbullah (or some other proxy) will simply be rearmed and re-attack in the future. Israel (and America) should go after Syria.

However, at the same time. I don’t see how Israel could ignore the thousands and thousands of rockets Hezbullah has amassed in Lebanon.

Posted by: Michael Smith at August 4, 2006 01:10 PM

Joe, I think that the after the events in 1945, 1956, and 1962 most Europeans decided that it isn't their job to be brave any more. America has heroes; Europeans have soccer, the welfare state, and defend their timidity by their readiness to attack the U.S. and its fighting allies when they stand up for Western values.

That, essentially, is the "1968" generation. The European kids of today may have different convictions. However, once the Muslim population reaches 30% or so, that may not matter any more - there will simply be domination or revolution and non-Muslims will be enslaved or forced to flee, one way or another. Just ask the Lebanese.

Posted by: Solomon2 at August 4, 2006 01:16 PM

TN:

Sigh...what are you reading? I'm reading pro-Israeli guys like Counterterrorism Blog and Sensing on Winds of Change. As well as the Post (which supports Israel in this war) and the Jerusalem Post, Ha'artez, etc.

Israel isn't "advancing" anywhere. It's stuck right where it started. Despite one fancy raid (which was intended to rescue the captives and failed) and a lot more pointless bombing.

Prepping the battlefield? Oh, and how long are the going to do that? "Prepping the battlefield" is before you go into battle, not during the battle. "Advance to the Litani" is the latest watchword. Let's see if they can do it.... Every time they "advance" to another village, the previous village in the rear bursts out with renewed fighting. They can't hold a damn thing.

I don't believe just anything Nasrullah says. But if he says, "Our command-and-control structure is intact" and we see that missile firing as a whole can be turned off---and then on---with all the guys in the field knowing when to stop--and re-start, then he's proved his point. It's not talking, it's demonstrating... That Israel's attempts to gut Hezbollah's communication and decision-making powers has completely failed.

You can believe what you want about Israel's godlike infallibility and total invulnerability. The rest of us read and watch while they flounder helplessly and turn the most hardened of the Maronites against them.

Posted by: Jeff at August 4, 2006 01:18 PM

Is there a plan B?

If Israel can't take out Hezbollah...

If the U.S. doesn't take out Syria and Iran...

What then?

Posted by: monkyboy at August 4, 2006 01:27 PM

Soloman2 said:

Finally: it's much easier to throw your hat in with Hezbollah when the penalty for not doing so may be summary execution, isn't it? Better to stand up with "pride" for the Hezbollah you can't do anything about than reject them and risk the bullet, or even to be exposed to "shame" by the Hezb-dominated community.

I understand your point; however, that is not what I understood Mr. Totten to be saying. He did not ascribe the changing allegiance to fear, but to the following:

For some of them it's Stockholm Syndrome. For others it's Arab- and Lebanese-nationalism: My brother and I against my cousin. My cousin and I against the world.

Posted by: Michael Smith at August 4, 2006 01:40 PM

redaktor said

Syria (and Iran) will receive more than just a "knee-capping". Be patient

While I would very much like to believe you, it is coming up on 5 years since 9/11 -- 5 years!! -- and our warmongering, gunslinging, unilateralist, cowboy President has done nothing whatsoever against those two countries. At least nothing that is publicly visible.

Or are you expecting Israel to do something?

Posted by: Michael Smith at August 4, 2006 01:51 PM

5 Years!

Amen. But as I argued before, there is probably a reason. But its name is derided as an argument for or against war.

Posted by: jdwill at August 4, 2006 01:56 PM

Those demons the Lebanese have in the basement are their imaginary friends. You can't expect people who think the Mahdi is coming back any minute to act rationally.

The trouble with the peacekeeping force is what will they do if attacked? Which UN will show up? The one at Srebenica? Or the one that fought in Korea in 1950?

Posted by: Doubting Thomas at August 4, 2006 02:10 PM

I completely agree with one of your comments (Mr. Totten) that Syria and Iran need to be kneecapped. If they suffer nothing, then they have nothing to lose and everything to gain when they send HA to attack Israel. I wonder if Israel simply announced that every HA attack will be considered in fact an attack by Syria, and then laid not a single artillery round on Lebanon, but hammered Damascus instead? Certainly they should only attack Hezbollahstan and never Lebanon.

Posted by: Doubting Thomas at August 4, 2006 02:20 PM

For some of them it's Stockholm Syndrome. For others it's Arab- and Lebanese-nationalism

I think Stockholm Syndrome and the retreat into Arab-nationalism is a result of Lebanese capitulating to their fears, finding a kind of "honorable" way to do so in their own minds.

On the other hand, Hizbollah clearly wants to destroy Lebanese nationalism and submerge it into a larger organism of some sort. Lebanon's only chance of asserting its nationalism is, I guess, to ally with Israel. Only an alliance will do; just sitting back or fleeing abroad in the hope that Israel will do the job unaided may not work: Israel may be freed of rockets, but Lebanon won't be freed from Hezbollah's whip and harness. At least by allying with Israel the Israelis will be forced to take Lebanese views into account.

Posted by: Solomon2 at August 4, 2006 03:16 PM

Micahel, you say, Lebanon also was a peaceful and nice place to live. As it is has been said, they purchased that peace at the price of Israel’s peace, hence whether they like it or not, what is happening now is the outcome of that decision.
Paraphrasing from Winston Churchill, Lebanon had to choose between war and dishonor. They chose dishonor. They have got war.

Saghir, the “bush is dumb” has been seen of. But direction to Galbraith did have its use. This item from him, the meeting was in February.

“Late last month Moqtada al-Sadr, the radical Shiite leader in Baghdad, traveled to Tehran to confer with his Iranian sponsors, who help pay for his ten-thousand-man private militia, the Mahdi Army. Commenting on the impending crisis between the United States and Iran over Iran's nuclear program, al-Sadr said, "If neighboring Islamic countries, including Iran, become the target of attacks, we will support them. The Mahdi Army is beyond the Iraqi Army. It was established to defend Islam”

Jeff, Nothing at all has been secured in Lebanon. Zilch. The Washington Post also has Charles Krauthammer pointing out why they must beat Hizbollah. That they have been of use in the past, and hence supported, but if they don’t hammer Hezbollah for the US then they will be on their own

and
“The moderate pro-Western Arabs understand this very clearly. Which is why Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Jordan immediately came out against Hezbollah and privately urged the United States to let Israel take down that organization. They know that Hezbollah is fighting Iran's proxy war not only against Israel but also against them and, more generally, against the United States and the West “

The evidence is there that Iran has huge ambitions to dominate the ME and that Israel as well as Lebanon are to be sacrificed by Iran to do so. While it is the case that the monkey believes that the Jews, amongst their sins, will be the supporters of the devil when the 12th Imam comes back and the apocalypse is with us, Israel has more immediate value for the megalomaniac.
With all the wailing about poor Lebanon, how about poor Israel. Everybody’s tool, including the Arab states in their fear of Iran, and now they are being blamed for not being ruthless enough, Krauthammer on radio said that because they were trying so hard not to hit civilians they are facing losing.

Posted by: Ros at August 4, 2006 03:27 PM

At 11:02pm 03 Aug, upthread here, MJT links to what MJT describes as Lebanese liberals, "This is how they feel right now."

I credit Michael for making it clear to me that "right now" is very much the operative word when discussing thinking or
(perhaps more apt) popular sentiment in Lebanon.

However, something in the linked post jumped out at me.
The blogger, Raja, writes, "... they [Israel] destroyed the first and only proudly secular, liberal political and social movement in the entire Middle East."
Raja can write that only because his thinking (sentiment really) puts Israel (forever and always) out of the Middle East. This from a liberal-minded fellow.

It's imperfect analogy-wise, I know, but my mind immediately pictured the African-American students mocked and punched in the face for "acting white" when they get good grades.
How brave the good student is when he persists in spite of the "persuasion" of the punchers and how stupidly self-destructive the punchers are.
And how only an idiot would blame the good student if he fought back.

Posted by: Stephen_M at August 5, 2006 04:52 AM

dougf
So I refrained, and Mike & Stephen got to put the boots in instead.
I feel ---- cheated .

Sorry dougf, I didn't get the memo. Truly.

Posted by: Stephen_M at August 5, 2006 05:02 AM

I have been an avid reader of your dispatches from both Lebanon and Kurdistan.

Michael, go safely, return safely.

Posted by: MentalFloss at August 5, 2006 06:22 PM
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