October 27, 2008

Lebanon's Enemy Within

Israel is floating the idea of a non-aggression pact with Lebanon. It isn't at all likely to work. The odds are minuscule that Syria, Iran, and Hezbollah will go along. But Lebanon will hold an election in a couple of months, and the offer of a non-aggression pact should play well with Lebanese voters who are uncomfortable with or hostile toward Hezbollah's vision of perpetual war with the “Zionist entity.”

Negotiating with implacable and inflexible enemies is foolish. No sensible person suggests that the United States negotiate with Al Qaeda, for instance. Peace talks with Damascus won't get Israelis anywhere either. Syria's tyrant Bashar Assad needs a state of cold war with Israel to justify the oppressive policies against his country's own citizens, and bad-faith negotiations yield him some measure of international legitimacy he doesn't deserve.

Hezbollah is “moderate” compared with the worst jihadist groups out there, but it simply cannot survive in its current form if it isn't engaged in at least a low level of conflict. Almost every militia in Lebanon relinquished most, if not all, of its weapons at the end of the civil war in 1990. Hezbollah's rationale for refusing is that its fighters are the only ones in the country willing and able to prevent another Israeli occupation of Lebanon. Without the perceived threat of another Israeli invasion, the justification for Hezbollah's very existence collapses.

Israelis would therefore be naïve in the extreme if they tried to establish a pact with Hezbollah itself, or a pact with Beirut that required Hezbollah's cooperation. Hezbollah doesn't stick to agreements and is less trustworthy than even Yasser Arafat turned out to be, when the Oslo peace process fell apart with the outbreak of the Second Intifada in 2000. Hezbollah doesn’t even pretend to want peace and will almost certainly gin up another shooting war on the border. “See?” Hezbollah will say to fellow Lebanese after violently provoking the Israelis to cross the border again. “We told you. You need us.”

The successful negotiation of a genuine non-aggression pact that every party in Lebanon would adhere to is not going to happen any time soon. Just listen to Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Seniora: “Lebanon will be the last Arab country to sign a peace agreement with Israel.” He may be right, but not for the reason some people might think.Eli Khoury, Lebanese political consultant and founder of the excellent online magazine NOW Lebanon, explained it to me this way last year: “The last Arab country,” he said. “This is the statement of those who want to make peace but know that they can’t. They don’t want to get ganged up on by the Arabs. We are the least anti-Israel Arab country in the world.”

Lebanon probably really is the least anti-Israel Arab country in the world. It is certainly the most liberal, democratic, and cosmopolitan of the Arabic countries – at least the non-Hezbollah parts of Lebanon are. It is by far the most demographically diverse; roughly a third of its people are Christians, another third are Sunnis, and most of the rest are Shias. Iraq is the only Arab-majority country that can compete with Lebanon when it comes to ideological breadth. There are more opinions there than people, and more political movements and parties than even most Lebanese themselves can keep track of.

If you look at Lebanon's population outside the Hezbollah bloc – the majority of Christians, Sunnis, and Druze – you will mostly find people who are nowhere near hostile enough to Israel to be a serious threat. The Israel Defense Forces and the Lebanese Armed Forces have had an unofficial non-aggression pact in place for decades. The Lebanese government does not and will not pick fights with Israel. Most Lebanese have negative opinions of Israel, but that doesn’t mean they’re interested in going to war. As a whole, they are much more hostile than, say, Europeans, but they're a lot less hostile as a whole than Palestinians.

Most were furious at Hezbollah for starting the last war in July, 2006, and they didn't get around to (grudgingly and temporarily) supporting Hezbollah until they felt Israel over-reacted by bombing Lebanese targets outside Hezbollah's strongholds. Some even supported Israel's initial counterattack--at least before the air force bombed Beirut's international airport. A huge number of Lebanese Christians were Israel's allies during the civil war, and even a large number of Shias from South Lebanon volunteered to fight Hezbollah and joined the Israeli-backed South Lebanon Army until the year 2000. Last time I visited Lebanon with my colleague Noah Pollak, I found, for the first time, billboards and signs with messages like “Wage Peace” and “No War” throughout the country in regions Hezbollah doesn’t control. As soon as the 2006 war ended, the Lebanese government pushed back hard against Hezbollah and refused to back down until Hezbollah mounted an armed offensive against the capital in May 2008.

Read the rest in COMMENTARY Magazine.

Posted by Michael J. Totten at October 27, 2008 11:30 AM
Comments

Your first para repeats halfway through. Feel free to delete this comment.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood Author Profile Page at October 27, 2008 11:58 AM

Oops, that was odd. Thanks for the heads-up.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten Author Profile Page at October 27, 2008 12:04 PM

Good Article Michael :)
I wonder how many years till we get peace...
I am guessing around 10.

Posted by: kodder Author Profile Page at October 27, 2008 2:49 PM

It won't pass in Lebanon... but it might in Iraq.

They've had some harsh words with Syria for facilitating suicide bombers.

They're moving down the same path every liberal democracy does: natural alliance with other liberal democracies, despite all other differences.

Posted by: TallDave Author Profile Page at October 27, 2008 4:33 PM

TallDave: [Iraq is] moving down the same path every liberal democracy does: natural alliance with other liberal democracies, despite all other differences.

Lebanon will eventually get there, as well. But the world will have to change first, or the country will have to be partitioned.

Some Lebanese are actually discussing partition again, but it won't happen. Hezbollah needs the rest of Lebanon as a vast human shield.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten Author Profile Page at October 27, 2008 5:31 PM

I like your idea of a referendum.

What would have to be proposed is a referendum that couldn't be destroyed through bullying and an entirely one sided campaign. Lebanese who would support such a fact would never want to outwardly campaign for it given the inherent violence of the position of their opponents.

The referendum would have to be written such that voting one way or another would result in the philosophical end of one's position.

It can't be the choice for a non-aggression pact versus no pact. It would have to be:

Yes, for non-aggression pact
No, for immediate war with Israel

Although, keeping the terms general might benefit the non-aggression camp:

Yes, for war with Israel
No, against war (ie, not pro-agreement, normalization, or what not)

However, I do not know if Lebanon has a constitutional mechanism to authorize a referendum.

Posted by: CharlesLPJ Author Profile Page at October 27, 2008 9:13 PM

I am guessing around 10.

5 years. The Arabs have proposed a settlement that includes full Arab recognitions. Israel among other things will go to the ore 1967 borders. No one side will get 100% but they have a peace of mind...or as much peace of mind as they can have in that area.

"The Israeli Prime Minister today described an Arab plan to make peace with the Jewish State as "revolutionary" and said the region could sign a final deal within five years. Ehud Olmert made his remarks in a series of newspaper interviews this morning, after leaders of the 22 Arab countries gave their unanimous backing to a plan which would commit them to developing diplomatic relations with Israel if it first agreed to a "land-for-peace" deal with the Palestinians. "
http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/middle_east/article1591031.ece Posted by: nameless-fool Author Profile Page at October 28, 2008 1:32 AM

'67 borders or the Wall line? If other problems are solved, it doesn't matter so much. But, no peace in 5 years, because of the problems:
"In particular, these are that a future Palestinian state should have Jerusalem as its capital city, and that the descendents of Palestinian refugees who lived in what is now Israel prior to its formation in 1948 should be allowed to return to what is now the modern day state."

Right of return for descendents is a deal breaker and will remain a deal breaker.

Quick nightmare fantasy: Hezbollah attacks Israel, Israel invades and occupies S. Lebanon Hezbollah-land and refuses to leave until the Palestinians in refugee camp cities who were born in Lebanon get Lebanese citizenship.

Israel has long been negligent about what the solution of the refugee Palestinians should be --"no return" cuts off one option but doesn't say what a good solution looks like.

Supporting return to the new Palestinian state, including financial compensation of building each family a house, might be a more reasonable solution alternative.

Posted by: Tom Grey - Liberty Dad Author Profile Page at October 29, 2008 2:49 AM

Tom Grey: Quick nightmare fantasy: Hezbollah attacks Israel, Israel invades and occupies S. Lebanon Hezbollah-land and refuses to leave until the Palestinians in refugee camp cities who were born in Lebanon get Lebanese citizenship.

Yeesh. That would be so horrible in so many ways that I hardly even want to think about it.

Lebanese don't want the Palestinians for the same reason the Israelis don't. They triggered the war in 1975 that damn near destroyed the country.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten Author Profile Page at October 29, 2008 3:05 AM

Supporting return to the new Palestinian state, including financial compensation of building each family a house, might be a more reasonable solution alternative.

Tom, I think this will be solved with one giant check: 'You can't return to Israel but here's a job and /or a house.' It's a trade-off.

Think of US, EU and the rich Arab nations giving, say $50 billion over 5 years. That would be $10 billion a year and a non-issue for the involved sides, given that they already spend quite a bit on arming Israel and supporting the Palestinians. Much of this could be in investments as well.

Once they agree on a solution, US will arm the faction we like and it's a mop up of the other side to prevent saboteurs!

Posted by: nameless-fool Author Profile Page at October 29, 2008 4:29 AM

The Thunder Run has linked to this post in the - Web Reconnaissance for 10/29/2008 A short recon of what’s out there that might draw your attention, updated throughout the day...so check back often.

Posted by: David M Author Profile Page at October 29, 2008 8:27 AM

Right of return for descendents is a deal breaker and will remain a deal breaker.

I seem to remember that argument being used by the Palestinians prior to 1948 and it didn't work, so maybe it won't be a deal breaker.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood Author Profile Page at October 29, 2008 8:45 AM

"Israelis would therefore be naïve in the extreme if they tried to establish a pact with Hezbollah itself, or a pact with Beirut that required Hezbollah's cooperation"

I see it somewhat differently.
I am sure Israelis understand true nature and intentions of HA. This move is not naïve. There is little doubt it will fail.
It is an attempt to turn even greater number of Lebanese against HA. Whether it will work or not I do not know. Probably not, but one can try.

Posted by: leo Author Profile Page at October 29, 2008 10:24 AM

"They (Palestinians) triggered the war in 1975 that damn near destroyed the country."

I disagree. In 1975 and before PLO was used by various Lebanese factions to advance Lebanese sectarian goals.
Lebanese were very ego to cut each other throats themselves. Had it not been true there would not have been Lebanese Civil War (second civil war, btw) but rather war between PLO and united Lebanon. Blame is misplaced.

Posted by: leo Author Profile Page at October 29, 2008 10:33 AM

How about the right of return compensation for the 750,000 Jews and their descendants from Arab nations from 48' -67. The number of Jewish refugee's, had Israel not absorbed them would be at least as many of these so called "right of return" bedouin Arabs. I'm amused one would actually believe that after all of the opportunities the Arab world has had to absorb their Palestinian brethren, and with all of the wealth in the Arab world, that one would think this is about money. To the "Palestinian Arabs" it's about the death of the State of Israel as we know it. Plain as pie. They are being used. The Theocratic and more Secular Facist dictatorships in the region have a vested interest in keeping the Pali's in a state of flux. The logic is clear, to think otherwise is obtuse. Black September anyone?

Posted by: steveoh Author Profile Page at October 30, 2008 5:35 AM

Lebanon will eventually get there, as well. But the world will have to change first, or the country will have to be partitioned.

Yes, they'll have to gain control of their country first. It's somewhat ironic that Iraq is in better position in that regard than Lebanon.

In a few years, Iraq may have a pretty strong military, regionally speaking. I wonder if there's any chance they'd be in position to provide ssistance to Lebanon's elected government.

Iraqis can see what Iran has done in Shia Lebanon, and I know how Kurds and Sunnis view it. I wonder how Iraqi Shia feel about it, though.

Posted by: TallDave Author Profile Page at October 30, 2008 8:27 PM

In a few years, Iraq may have a pretty strong military, regionally speaking. I wonder if there's any chance they'd be in position to provide ssistance to Lebanon's elected government.

I'm trying to think hard why the present government of Iraq would want to do that, Dave.

As a matter of fact I'd be willing to bet quite a bit of money that within five years you'll be denouncing the Iraq military in terms that you presently reserve for Iran, Syria, and Hezbollah.

Some time ago you agreed that a test of the level of Iraqi government allegiance toward Iran would be the outcome of the SOFA negotiations. Any conclusions yet?

Posted by: double-plus-ungood Author Profile Page at October 31, 2008 12:32 PM

I'm trying to think hard why the present government of Iraq would want to do that, Dave.

I'm trying to think hard why we support other liberal democracies.

As a matter of fact I'd be willing to bet quite a bit of money that within five years you'll be denouncing the Iraq military in terms that you presently reserve for Iran, Syria, and Hezbollah.

Given that said Iraqi military is currently fighting all three, I find that rather laughable.

Some time ago you agreed that a test of the level of Iraqi government allegiance toward Iran would be the outcome of the SOFA negotiations. Any conclusions yet?

Since then, they've crushed Iranian-backed militias and regularly arrested Iranian operatives, and backed our operations in Syria. Yes, I've come to some conclusions.

Also, few in the Iraqi government are talking about kicking us out. There's just a lot of sticking points, as national sovereignty is naturally a delicate business.

Posted by: TallDave Author Profile Page at November 2, 2008 6:41 PM

Since then, they've crushed Iranian-backed militias and regularly arrested Iranian operatives, and backed our operations in Syria.

As the large portions of the government, particularly the Ministry of the Interior, ARE an Iranian-backed militia, I'm not sure that your statement is in any way accurate. Sadr has far less Iranian support than the former Badr Brigade, Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq, and al-Dawa, all of whom form the current government.

Nevertheless, the last time we had this disagreement, I proposed that a reasonable test of the friendship toward Iran would be the results of the SOFA negotiations. You agreed. As it seems that at the very least, the US will be required to withdraw from Iraq according to s strict schedule, I wonder if you still think the SOFA negotiations a reasonable test?

I'm guessing that you will want the goalposts moved.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood Author Profile Page at November 2, 2008 10:03 PM

As the large portions of the government, particularly the Ministry of the Interior, ARE an Iranian-backed militia

This is an absurd assertion, so flimsy it does not bear the slightest scrutiny. The MOI receives no significant arms or funding from Iran, and there's no evidence they are pursuing a theocratic agenda. All three of these applied in spades to the Iranian-backed militias.

I proposed that a reasonable test of the friendship toward Iran would be the results of the SOFA negotiations. You agreed. As it seems that at the very least, the US will be required to withdraw from Iraq according to s strict schedule...I'm guessing that you will want the goalposts moved.

It sounds like you want to set the goalposts such that no matter what happens, it means things are going badly. Here's the latest:

BAGHDAD, Nov. 3 (Xinhua) -- Iraqi officials said that Washington has agreed on most of Iraq's proposed changes to a draft security agreement that would allow U.S. troops to stay in the country until 2011, an Iraqi newspaper reported on Monday.

Meanwhile, Shiite lawmaker Sami Al-Askari said that if the Iraqi government's changes are approved by the U.S., all parliamentary blocs will agree to it

Why are the Iraqis asking for a timetable on U.S. combat troop withdrawal by 2011? Because the country is now peaceful enough that U.S. combat troops won't be needed. That's success. And they are not exactly inviting the Iranians to replace us.

What you either omit or do not realize is that the SOFA agreement will have significant numbers of American trainers and advisers in Iraq for many years, and continuing sales of U.S. military equipment for the foreseeable future. That relationship will remain close.

Instead of a futile effort to play gotcha with the SOFA, you would be be better served to ask this simple question: besides normal trade relations, what can theocratic Iraq offer democratic Iraq, other than Hizbollah cells and repressive, violent militias? Iraq has comparable oil wealth and an increasingly competent military. Also, Iran's gov't is not popular in Iraq: even if some minority elements of the Shia improbably did want to align with Tehran, the Kurds and Sunnis are vehemently opposed to such.

Posted by: TallDave Author Profile Page at November 3, 2008 9:15 AM

theocratic Iran offer Democratic Iraq*

Posted by: TallDave Author Profile Page at November 3, 2008 9:28 AM

Instead of a futile effort to play gotcha with the SOFA,...

Well Dave, we can go back and forth on this all day. I say that the government is more Iran-friendly than Sadr's party and militia, you say they aren't. I thought that was why we had agreed that SOFA was a useful test of our respective positions. Now I'm asking if you've changed your mind now that the agreed-upon test has not worked in your favor.

Yes or no?

Posted by: double-plus-ungood Author Profile Page at November 3, 2008 9:40 AM

This is an absurd assertion, so flimsy it does not bear the slightest scrutiny.

Who funded these parties and former militias since their inception? In what country were they based for decades? Which city? In what country have both leaders of the current government lived for years? Which political party now running the country blew up an American embassy in Kuwait at the behest of the Iranians?

You can certainly argue that they may have changed their minds, although I'm not sure how you would prove that. I do know, however, that this is anything but a flimsy assertion.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood Author Profile Page at November 3, 2008 9:45 AM

Now I'm asking if you've changed your mind now that the agreed-upon test has not worked in your favor.

It has worked entirely in my favor, as I've already explained.

I say that the government is more Iran-friendly than Sadr's party and militia, you say they aren't.

I don't merely say they aren't, I note they are actively destroying Iranian proxies and arresting Iranian agents. You offer no current evidence, because there is so little to be had.

Who funded these parties and former militias since their inception?

Who supported the mujahideen in Afghanistan? By this logic, Al Qaeda is aligned with the U.S. government.

Who massively armed the Soviets via Lend-Lease in WW II? By that reasoning, we never should have had a Cold War.

The Iranians and Dawa once had a common enemy in Saddam. That enemy is now gone -- thanks to the U.S., not Iran. They have few conjoined interests now.

I do know, however, that this is anything but a flimsy assertion.

It's tissue-thin. The slightest breeze of analysis destroys it.

Posted by: TallDave Author Profile Page at November 3, 2008 10:05 AM

http://www.longwarjournal.org/archives/2008/10/iraqi_forces_kill_ca.php

Iraqi and Coalition forces have maintained the pressure on the Iranian-backed terror groups operating inside Iraq during the month of October. Two Iranian-trained Special Groups fighters have been killed and 76 have been captured during raids since Oct. 1, according to numbers compiled by The Long War Journal. Fifty-three have been captured since Oct. 13. Fourteen of those captured were members of the Hezbollah Brigades. The Hezbollah Brigades is an Iranian-backed terror group that has been behind multiple roadside bombings and rocket attacks against US and Iraqi forces in Baghdad.

To say the Iraqi government is on the same side as the people they are fighting is absurd.

Posted by: TallDave Author Profile Page at November 3, 2008 10:15 AM

It has worked entirely in my favor, as I've already explained.

How does the inability for Iraq and the US to finalize a SOFA agreement work in your favor? There is less than tow months to go, and it was initially expected that an agreement would be reached in July. Iraq is clearly reluctant to agree to US requirements. You think this means that Iraq is not in Iran's sphere of influence?

How does that work?

Posted by: double-plus-ungood Author Profile Page at November 3, 2008 11:26 AM

Dave, I note that the Hezbollah Brigade members seem to have been captured by coalition forces, not the Iraqi military. How many of the Iranian-affiliated individuals you mention were captured by the Iraqis working alone?

Posted by: double-plus-ungood Author Profile Page at November 3, 2008 11:29 AM

How does the inability for Iraq and the US to finalize a SOFA agreement work in your favor

Obviously I did not say that the delay worked in my favor, but that is a lovely strawman you've beaten down.

The details that the parties have agreed on fully support my position.

You think this means that Iraq is not in Iran's sphere of influence?

If they were "in Iran's sphere of influence," they would (in accordance with Iran's policy) be refusing to negotiate a SOFA with the U.S. at all, not to mention they would probably refrain from arresting Iranian operatives, attacking Hizbollah cells, and crushing Iranian-back militias. This should all be fairly obvious.

Also, you are committing the "not A, therefore B" logical fallacy. Iraq has many valid internal reasons for delaying the SOFA agreement, and they have been late on virtually every major agreement, from the Constitution to the provincial elections.

Posted by: TallDave Author Profile Page at November 3, 2008 11:36 AM

How many of the Iranian-affiliated individuals you mention were captured by the Iraqis working alone?

http://www.longwarjournal.org/archives/2008/10/iraqi_troops_find_ef.php

Taking on Qods Force

Iraqi security forces are also zeroing in on Iran's network inside Iraq. Iraqi forces have captured nine Iranian Qods Force agents and killed one since Oct. 18. Iraqi soldiers captured an Iranian "infiltrator" during a sweep in Basrah on Oct. 28. Iraqi troops killed one Iranian agent captured another during a clash in Al Kut in Wasit province on Oct. 24. Iraqi police captured three armed Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps officers in Al Kut on Oct. 20. Border guards captured four more in Mandali in Diyala province.

That's over about one week.

Posted by: TallDave Author Profile Page at November 3, 2008 11:40 AM
Here's a story about the negotiations last month:
At another Baghdad mosque, Shiite cleric Sadralddin al-Qubanji criticized the secrecy that surrounded the months of negotiations with the Americans.

He said the agreement "might be negative or positive" and called on the government to do a better job informing the public about the details.

"There is no national unanimity about it," al-Qubanji said.

Al-Qubanji's noncommittal remarks were significant because he is associated with the Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council, the biggest Shiite party and al-Maliki's partner in the government. It holds 30 of the 275 seats in parliament that al-Maliki needs to ensure a strong majority vote on the agreement.

But the Supreme Council has not announced a stand on the agreement, a move party members say was designed to distance it from the prime minister in case the deal meets significant opposition.

Key council leaders have close ties to Iran.

My emphasis. Posted by: double-plus-ungood Author Profile Page at November 3, 2008 11:48 AM

That's over about one week.

I'm unclear on where the Lon gWar Journal is getting teir info from. For example, they say:

Prior to today's sweep in Basrah, Iraqi security forces captured an "Iranian infiltrator" in province's Shatt al Arab region, Voices of Iraq reported. While not stated, the Iranian is a member of the Ramazan Corps, the command created by Qods Force, the elite special operations branch of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps.
If it isn't stated, then how do they know this apparent illegal immigrant is Qods?

Posted by: double-plus-ungood Author Profile Page at November 3, 2008 11:52 AM

Heh, that article actually proves my point. The "key council leaders" appears toi refer to the Sadrists mentioned in the next graf.

The political movement loyal to anti-U.S. Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, which also holds 30 parliament seats, has come out strongly against the agreement and plans to hold a mass rally Saturday in the capital's Sadr City district to reinforce that message.

During a sermon Friday in Najaf, al-Sadr aide Sheik Assad al-Nasseri said the demonstration would demand "the occupier leave Iraq unconditionally."

Al-Nasseri said the Sadrists would continue to oppose the deal "whatever the concessions that the government claims to have gotten."

Now THAT sounds like the Iranian position. Care to revise your assessment of whether the gov't or the Sadrist militias are closer to Iran?

And, as I stated before:

A copy of the draft, obtained by The Associated Press, shows that the Iraqis won some major concessions, including a date for the U.S. troop withdrawal but with the provision that the government could ask for some soldiers to stay for training and support.

Americans are going to be there for decades, most likely.

Posted by: TallDave Author Profile Page at November 3, 2008 11:53 AM

If it isn't stated, then how do they know this apparent illegal immigrant is Qods?

Because Qods is the Iranian force tasked with infiltrating Iraq and fomenting armed resistance against the elected Iraqi government.

Posted by: TallDave Author Profile Page at November 3, 2008 11:58 AM

Because Qods is the Iranian force tasked with infiltrating Iraq and fomenting armed resistance against the elected Iraqi government.

I know what Qods is, but I don't see how they know that this individual is Qods. Do they list any sources that I overlooked?

Posted by: double-plus-ungood Author Profile Page at November 3, 2008 12:14 PM

Now THAT sounds like the Iranian position. Care to revise your assessment of whether the gov't or the Sadrist militias are closer to Iran?

I'm not sure why that should.

Sorry Dave, but it appears that there isn't much more that I can say on this. What has been agreed to so far in the SOFA negotiations requires an unequivocal timed withdrawal of US forces, no matter what the security situation at the time, and the Iraq government reserves the right to expel them earlier if they so wish. Additionally, US forces are to be restricted to their bases, and are subject to Iraq law. This will severely restrict their ability to do much more than watch TV.

The starting US position was that US forces remain in Iraq indefinitely. That position has been considerably eroded, and they still can't get an agreement signed. If the Iraqi government stalls for much longer, there will be no legal basis for a continued US presence beyond Jan 1, 2009.

And I'm surprised to see you of all people agreeing that US troops can be pulled out of Iraq. That position, espoused not so long ago, had you frothing.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood Author Profile Page at November 3, 2008 12:25 PM
5 years. The Arabs have proposed a settlement that includes full Arab recognitions. Israel among other things will go to the ore 1967 borders. No one side will get 100% but they have a peace of mind...or as much peace of mind as they can have in that area.

Add a "0" to the end of your estimate and I suspect you'd be a lot closer at 50 years than 5 before anyone has anything remotely resembling peace of mind.

As it stands now, the Palestinian establishment has zero interest in a two-state solution except as a stepping stone towards their goal of taking over Israel.

"Right of return" (quotes because most "refuges" have never set foot in Israel) isn't about letting Palestinians live in a West Bank Palestinian state- it's about flooding Israel proper with a couple million Palestinians, many (most) of whom are viruently anti-Israel. The consequences of that aren't difficult to imagine, and Israel will never agree to it- nor should they.

Even if a two-state treaty is reached, the violence would return before the ink was dry; eventually Israel would be forced to retaliate, and it starts all over again.

No one wins a war by defining victory as a tie. Sadly, I don't see major progress except in the aftermath of a major shooting war- Egypt being a past example. Israel will do just about anything to avoid major conflict at this point, but in the end it may not be their decision to make.

Posted by: Hollowpoint Author Profile Page at November 3, 2008 1:01 PM

What has been agreed to so far in the SOFA negotiations requires an unequivocal timed withdrawal of US forces, no matter what the security situation at the time

Did you read the article? The SOFA will allow Iraq to invite U.S. forces to stay longer if needed.

Also, you may have noticed Iraq is negotiating for sophisticated U.S. armaments, which clearly implies an extended security relationship. We don't just drop off F-15s with an instruction manual.

The starting US position was that US forces remain in Iraq indefinitely.

This is just a leftist trope with no basis in reality. The U.S. position has been to stay only until Iraqis no longer need our help. That day appears to be fast approaching, based on the ever-dropping casualties.

And I'm surprised to see you of all people agreeing that US troops can be pulled out of Iraq. That position, espoused not so long ago, had you frothing.

The question was always whether they left because security situation allowed it, or because we were giving up and abandoning the country to civil war and extremism. This is not a difficult distinction to make, but it seems to elude some nonetheless.

Posted by: TallDave Author Profile Page at November 6, 2008 2:01 PM

I know what Qods is, but I don't see how they know that this individual is Qods.

Hard to say. It may be some original reporting from Roggio, who has contacts. But if you're an Iranian helping arm Iraqi militias, you're probably Qods. They don't have any other forces doing that afaik.

Posted by: TallDave Author Profile Page at November 6, 2008 2:04 PM

The current focus of Iraqi Air Force development is building up support infrastructure and training personnel. The plan is to have 6,000 personnel and 10 air bases established to support the squadrons by 2011. However, it usually takes two years from the time an aircraft is ordered until it is delivered. This is why the Iraqi Air Force has started orders for Stage two.

During stage two, the Iraqi Air Force will receive 516 aircraft. The Iraqi Air Force has ordered 36 F16 fighters, 24 AT-6B trainers, 24 EC-635 Utility/Attack Helos, and 24 Bell-407 Armed Recon Helos, all to be delivered in 2011. The trainer aircraft are probably a one-time buy. The others are probably the first of five yearly deliveries, with the remaining extras being additional fighters. Twenty-four aircraft are standard for an Iraqi helicopter squadron and 18 aircraft appears to be the standard for the fighter squadrons.

So they have purchases set up through 2016.

This fits with the Minister of Defense's statement that they should be independent in 2018 to 2020. He was allowing for training time, slippage in training time, budget delays, and delays in deliveries. The Iraqi Air Force is developing, but it will not be ready until sometime during stage three (2016-2020) of the Iraqi Security Force development plan.

So the MOD is planning on American support through 2020. That doesn't sound like they're planning to move into Iran's orbit over the next few years.

http://www.longwarjournal.org/archives/2008/11/plans_for_iraqi_air.php

Posted by: TallDave Author Profile Page at November 6, 2008 3:10 PM

I voted Barr. The Libertarian Party is on the wrong side of the Iraq conflict, but that's pretty much a fait accompli at this point, and I agree with about 99% of their domestic/trade agenda.

And remember to feel relieved that we have peaceful transitions of power in this country.

Amen to that.

Posted by: TallDave Author Profile Page at November 7, 2008 10:10 AM

I will self-correct p/ the following received from a friend;

"I read your comments on Totten's blog. They are excellent except a couple of corrections needed ... you said, "Banks were forced to purchase loans made by both of these entities." That is not the way the mortgage industry works.

Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae (FM/FM) were called the "secondary mortgage markets" ... they would purchase loans from banks and mortgage brokers. The banks and mortgage brokers used FM/FM guidelines in order to approve loans. If FM/FM guidelines were met, the mortgage lenders would know that they could "sell their mortgage in the secondary market" and thereby obtain cash to continue to make loans and conduct their other businesses.

Our government, pressured by ACORN etc, forced FM/FM to eliminate their stringent lending standards, i.e., minimal acceptable credit scores, strict loan-to-value requirements and satisfactory debt-to-income ratios. The lending industry was then able to get even the most undesirable loans "approved" through FM/FM. So, it was FM/FM who bought bad loans from the nationwide local lending institutions. Then in addition to these undesirable loans that were purchased, FM/FM executives committed fraud beyond normal criminal standards (if there is a thing called "normal criminal standards"). The fraud perpetrated by the likes of franklin raines, james johnson and jamie gorelick, supported by political hush money to sen. dodd, obama and frank (to name a few) could go down in American history has the most infamous national scandal. That is if the mainstream media ever wakes up and smells the stench."

Posted by: DagneyT Author Profile Page at November 7, 2008 2:53 PM

Another oops;

Fannie Mae was created in 1938 and Freddie Mac was created in 1968 by carter to mask the fraud -- in my original message, I had the names transposed.

Posted by: DagneyT Author Profile Page at November 7, 2008 2:57 PM

"Freddie Mac was created in 1968 by carter to mask the fraud"

According to a quick web search, Freddie Mac was started in 1970, which was during the Nixon administration; Carter served from 1977-81. This still leaves open the questions of how it was used by whom at what time.

Posted by: Gary Rosen Author Profile Page at November 9, 2008 10:24 AM
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