November 20, 2009

A Third Lebanon War Could Be Much Worse than the Second

Hezbollah's Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah recently announced that he could hit any and every place in Israel with long-range missiles. That would mean that, unlike in 2006, Hezbollah could strike not only the northern cities of Kiryat Shmona and Haifa but also Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Ben-Gurion International Airport, and the Dimona nuclear-power plant.

I dismissed his claim as a wild boast last week, but Israeli army commander Major General Gabi Ashkenazi confirmed it this week. So while we've all been worried about Iran's nuclear-weapons program, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has been quietly arming his chief terrorist proxy with more advanced conventional weapons.

A Third Lebanon War could make the Second Lebanon War in 2006 look like a minor kerfuffle. And the Second Lebanon War was anything but. When Noah Pollak and I covered it from the Israeli side, we found the whole northern swath of the country emptied of people and cars like it was the end of the world. The city of Tiberias looked like a zombie movie set. Kiryat Shmona is so close to the border that the air raid sirens often didn't start wailing until after Hezbollah's incoming Katyusha rockets had already exploded.

Meanwhile, pitched battles between the Israel Defense Forces and Hezbollah seriously chewed up South Lebanon. The centers of entire towns were pulverized by Israeli air and artillery strikes. More than a thousand people were killed, many of them civilians used by Hezbollah as human shields.

Hezbollah is much more dangerous than any terrorist group that has ever been fielded from the West Bank or Gaza. It managed to create hundreds of thousands of refugees inside Israel, and it did so with fewer and shorter range rockets than it has now. And while the "Party of God" may think it's terrific that it can do what Hamas in Gaza only fantasizes about, its arsenal indirectly threatens Lebanon just as much if not more than it threatens Israel. Nasrallah can unleash a great deal of destruction, but it's still no match for what the IDF can dish out while fighting back.

If Israel's nuclear power plant comes under fire, if Tel Aviv skyscrapers explode from missile attacks, if Hezbollah manages to turn all of Israel into a kill zone where there is no place to run, Israelis will panic like they haven't since the 1973 Yom Kippur War when it briefly appeared the Egyptian army might overrun the whole country. I wouldn't want to be anywhere in Lebanon while Israelis are actively fending off that kind of assault. No country can afford to be restrained while fighting for its survival.

Read the rest in Commentary Magazine.

Posted by Michael J. Totten at November 20, 2009 11:18 AM
Comments

But that didn't scare Little Bill... er... Hassan Nasrallah... none did it?

Posted by: programmmer_craig Author Profile Page at November 20, 2009 12:51 PM

Craig, I know you will disagree with this; but I find the Iranians eminently disciplined, rational, responsible, reliable, and sophisticated. They are unlike the Arabs or Pakistanis. Iran actually controls its territory, and when they say someone would be safe to visit, they make sure it is safe for them to visit.

I haven't heard crazy rhetoric from Iranians other than Ahmadinejad in a long time. And most Iranians think Ahmadinejad is an embarrassing blow hard load mouth.

I am surprised the Hezbollah would say such a thing, especially given how much it would hurt them with Lebanese and the international community.

On another note, sometimes, Israelis hold crazy positions too:

http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/Flash.aspx/174891
"Of the more than 6,400 people surveyed, 53.2 said 'Transfer of Palestinians to another Arab country' when asked, "What's the best solution for the Arab-Israeli conflict?" The "two-states for two peoples" solution being pushed by the United States and the international community received 30.8 percent support, while the idea of giving Palestinians Jordanian citizenship was approved by 14.5 percent. Maintaining the status quo received 1.3 percent of the vote."

If that isn't nuts, I don't know what is. Don't Israelis realize that there is no such thing as pan Arab nationalism; that the Palestinians are very different from other Arab country residents? That other Arabs terribly mistreat Palestinians just like the Israelis do?

How could 53% of Israelis want Palestinians to leave their ancestral homeland of the West Bank and Gaza and move to other countries that don't like Palestinians and don't want Palestinians?

I would guess that many Palestinians might have been Jews who converted to Islam. Many Palestinians Arabs are a lot like Israeli Arab Jews (which represent a majority of Israeli Jews I believe.) How would Israelis like it if someone said that Arab Jews should be deported back to Arab countries?

Posted by: anand Author Profile Page at November 20, 2009 6:28 PM

Craig, I know you will disagree with this; but I find the Iranians eminently disciplined, rational, responsible, reliable, and sophisticated. They are unlike the Arabs or Pakistanis. Iran actually controls its territory, and when they say someone would be safe to visit, they make sure it is safe for them to visit.

I haven't heard crazy rhetoric from Iranians other than Ahmadinejad in a long time. And most Iranians think Ahmadinejad is an embarrassing blow hard load mouth.

I am surprised the Hezbollah would say such a thing, especially given how much it would hurt them with Lebanese and the international community.

On another note, sometimes, Israelis hold crazy positions too:

http:/
/www.israelnationalnews.com/News/Flash.aspx/174891
"Of the more than 6,400 people surveyed, 53.2 said 'Transfer of Palestinians to another Arab country' when asked, "What's the best solution for the Arab-Israeli conflict?" The "two-states for two peoples" solution being pushed by the United States and the international community received 30.8 percent support, while the idea of giving Palestinians Jordanian citizenship was approved by 14.5 percent. Maintaining the status quo received 1.3 percent of the vote."

If that isn't nuts, I don't know what is. Don't Israelis realize that there is no such thing as pan Arab nationalism; that the Palestinians are very different from other Arab country residents? That other Arabs terribly mistreat Palestinians just like the Israelis do?

How could 53% of Israelis want Palestinians to leave their ancestral homeland of the West Bank and Gaza and move to other countries that don't like Palestinians and don't want Palestinians?

I would guess that many Palestinians might have been Jews who converted to Islam. Many Palestinians Arabs are a lot like Israeli Arab Jews (which represent a majority of Israeli Jews I believe.) How would Israelis like it if someone said that Arab Jews should be deported back to Arab countries?

Posted by: anand Author Profile Page at November 20, 2009 6:28 PM

"No country can afford to be restrained while fighting for its survival."

I'm sure Nasrallah will be only too happy to justify his own actions that way. Just as an abusive person blames the spouse for any slight provocation.

@anand:

"Iran actually controls its territory, and when they say someone would be safe to visit, they make sure it is safe for them to visit."

By executing all open dissenters. How many were sentenced this week? How many are left to sentence? For all the benefits you could list, are you saying living in a totalitarian state is an acceptable price to pay for them?

Sick.

Posted by: gus3 Author Profile Page at November 20, 2009 6:50 PM

Just as an abusive person blames the spouse for any slight provocation.

Destroying skyscrapers with missiles isn't a slight provocation, Gus.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten Author Profile Page at November 20, 2009 7:52 PM

Craig, I know you will disagree with this; but I find the Iranians eminently...

Well, I'm not sure who you mean about "the Iranians" but I'll go through your checklist and point out where I do or don't agree :)

1) disciplined

Disagree. I actually think that's the biggest problem with Iranian culture, and what makes Iranians so hard to predict. I would tend to use the word "chaotic" instead! Seems from what I've seen on Iranian.com the last couple months that even amongst the opposition you can randomly select 5 Iranians and hear 5 different opinions, and the next day ask the same 5 for their opinions and you'll get a completely new set! OK, I'm exaggerating but not by much! And I don't necessarily think that's a bad thing, by the way. Creativity tends to come from chaotic types :)

2) rational

Hmmmm. I guess I'm gonna say that rationality is not a cultural value. So, it depends on who is in power.

3) responsible

Nope. I can't call a regime that consistently lies, breaks agreements and treaties, takes hostages, sponsors terrorism and so forth "responsible". That would imply that I think they can be trusted, and I certainly do not.

4) reliable

Drawing a blank here. Reliable in what way?

5) sophisticated.

Absolutely. Much more sophisticated than we Americans are.

They are unlike the Arabs or Pakistanis.

Yes they are. And that's why when I hear people talking about Iranians directly becoming involved in things like suicide bombings, hijackings, other forms of terrorism I tend to be skeptical. Iranians have a history of sponsoring such activities, but not so much in perpetrating them.

Iran actually controls its territory, and when they say someone would be safe to visit, they make sure it is safe for them to visit.

Except when the regime decides it needs to take some hostages...

I haven't heard crazy rhetoric from Iranians other than Ahmadinejad in a long time. And most Iranians think Ahmadinejad is an embarrassing blow hard load mouth.

That's the party line that a lot of Iranian expats would like people to believe. Or at least, that used to be the party line of expats who were "reformers". I haven't been hearing that much of late. Even from the people who used to say it.

Posted by: programmmer_craig Author Profile Page at November 20, 2009 11:35 PM

Michael,

My point is that the situation is totally asymmetrical.

Israel in such a conflict really would be fighting for its very survival. If I may engage in a little speculation, I think Israel's future existence would be more secure right now if the IDF and IAF had been less restrained during their second war w/ Lebanon.

Nasrallah's useful idiots are only too happy to propagate the line that Israel's existence is an insult to the majority Muslim nations in the Middle East, and cast themselves as the so-called "victims." But, like the saying goes, any excuse will serve a tyrant.

That's why I can't respect very much about any organization that predicates its "honor" on the elimination of an entire race from the face of the planet.

Posted by: gus3 Author Profile Page at November 21, 2009 1:00 AM

I am surprised the Hezbollah would say such a thing, especially given how much it would hurt them with Lebanese and the international community.

Are you joking? The international community (and, lately the Lebanese) have done practically nothing to curb Hezbollah's aggression. Hezbollah knows that they can push them around.

Iran actually controls its territory...

Like when the October suicide bombing (which may have been carried out by the sunni/Baluchi group Jundallah) targeted and killed top Revolutionary Guard commanders? Now I know you're joking.

That was just one of many attacks targeting and killing these "expert" government employees.

The only thing the Iranian government is good at is murdering, torturing and raping unarmed student protesters. And kidnapping American reporters and hikers.

Iran is run by thugs and unstable incompetents. The misery they inflict is now being spread around due to Iran's oil money and their alliance with Russia.

Posted by: maryatexitzero Author Profile Page at November 21, 2009 6:35 AM

As usual, anand glorifies the repressive bloody thugs who run Iran while demonizing Jews. Is there any difference between anand and the antisemitic annihilationists of Hamas who he also routinely glorifies? None that I can see.

Posted by: Gary Rosen Author Profile Page at November 21, 2009 9:15 AM

Note also the context of anand's post. It follows a column by Michael detailing threats by Nasrallah against Israel. anand is quite clearly attempting to justify the murder of Jews. This should come as no surprise because that is all he has ever done here.

Posted by: Gary Rosen Author Profile Page at November 21, 2009 9:21 AM

Anand,

I understand your comment about Iran is probably well intentioned, but, as someone who knows many young Iranians I have to say that it is wrong.

Khamenei and his thugs have shown anything but reliability. President Obama has spent his last 10 months in office bending over backwards to appease the bloody theocracy, and it has resulted in one humiliating snub after another...mingled with the abduction of 3 Americans on the Iraqi border and the concealment of a major nuclear reactor that El Baradei himself can't seem to find justification for.

Not to mention, these past few months have shown just how week the theocracy is. Both of Iran's most hate-filled festivities--"Quds Day" and the Anniversary of the US embassy takeover--were thwarted by Iranian citizens and turned into anti-Ahmadinejad/Khamenei rallies, in spite of the cold blooded murders, rapes, and abductions that the government has used to put down the protests.

America, Israel, or any country in the world would be stupid to try and work out an "agreement" with Khamenei right now, when we are so close to finally being rid of him. When the "Islamic Republic" sees its last day, the world is going to find in its place a nation with strength, sophistication, and intelligence to modernize with the 21st century...with a generation that will be ready to live in peace with the free world.

Posted by: C.H. Author Profile Page at November 21, 2009 10:20 AM

Anand wrote: "how would Israelis like it if someone said Arab Jews should be deported back to Arab countries?" Guess what? Someone HAS said exactly that: bongo loony-tunes people like members of Hamas & Hezbollah, to be sure, but I've heard that said several times. The Egyptian Jews in my family were discarded by Egypt (but not before being imprisoned, having their lives made hell, and having everything they owned stolen by Egypt first). When you ask them if they regard themselves as "Egyptian," they laugh. Instead, they say, "I'm from that country." There is no way former Jews from Arab countries would ever go back to places that are so brazenly hostile to them. And when the liar Amr Moussa declared (when he was Egypt's foreign minister) that Jews were "welcome" to return to Egypt, he knew he was using a cynical ploy to make it look as though Egypt is a "kind," "welcoming," "open" country. Moussa knows damn well no Jew in his/her right mind would ever return to that hellhole.

Posted by: Harold Author Profile Page at November 21, 2009 10:58 AM

"I understand your comment about Iran is probably well intentioned"

No, it was NOT "well-intentioned". anand has consistently and emphatically advocated for the worst antisemites since Hitler - Hamas, Hizbullah and the Iranian mullahs. In another post he laughed about the persecution of Jews and he said that Michael was Jewish. One of the unmistabkable markers, of course, of pathological antisemitism is the identification of non-Jews as Jewish. There is no question that anand has limitless maleveolence in his heart towards Jews.

Posted by: Gary Rosen Author Profile Page at November 21, 2009 1:03 PM

The idea from the last war seemed to be that Hezbollah could fire rockets into Israel and cause Israeli forces to enter Lebanon where they would become bogged down in a war of attrition and eventually be forced to leave. It seemed to be a plan designed to draw Israel into a battle it was guaranteed to lose.

If Hezbollah targets the entire country, then Israel seems to have some options but none of them are good ones and most are so drastic that implementing them would cause the world to gasp.

If there is another war, it would have to result in an outcome that changes the game drastically in some very fundamental way that makes it impossible to do again. A repeat of 2006 would simply be Einsteinian insanity.

Posted by: crosspatch Author Profile Page at November 21, 2009 3:44 PM

@Harold:

"Moussa knows damn well no Jew in his/her right mind would ever return to that hellhole."

I'm sure lots of Coptic Christians are questioning their loyalty right now as well.

Posted by: gus3 Author Profile Page at November 21, 2009 4:33 PM

anand,

Know your history. Jordan is Palestine -- it is the part of mandated Palestine that was "given" to the Arabs/Muslims under the rule of the imported Hashemite King Abdullah. The part of mandated Palestine west of the Jordan River was for the Jews.

Posted by: Scott NYC Author Profile Page at November 21, 2009 4:55 PM

Said Hariri's recent (a couple of weeks ago) choice to form a "national unity government" with Hizballah will haunt Lebanon.

No. Change that. Make that: will result in the destruction of all of Lebanon in the next round of hizballah instigated war.

A naive observer might expect that hizballah would be somehow restrained by this alliance with Hariri. Hizballah will not be restrained. They are an ideological organization. For them to change their approach would be impossible. They would no longer be "hizballah".

http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20091109/wl_mideast_afp/lebanonpoliticsgovernment

Posted by: del Author Profile Page at November 21, 2009 6:26 PM

Scott NYC is correct.
It was also sanctioned by the league of Nations (Treaty of Lugano, I believe but may be mistaken on the name).
No matter, we have also to thank perfidious Albion and its repeated commissions set up to shrink the Jewish patrimony further and further. Even then the Arabs under the Grand Mufti (How ironic assigned his position by a Jew, Herbert Samuel) rejected every proposal giving the Jews anything but oblivion.
The Brits initially lopped off 80% of the Mandate for the Saudi's cousins to create Trans-Jordan...and look where it got them. (Ha!!)
And Abdullah's grandfather who wanted a peaceful coexistence with Israel was assassinated for his efforts. Plus ca change....
There will come a day soon where the 80% Palestinian population will take control of Jordan, and oust the monarchy. We'll see then whether they call themselves a Palestinian state (which they are).
No one wants to discuss such options since the Arabs will feel humiliated and hurt when in reality it would upset their plans to make all of the middle east Judenrein.
already about a third of the Palestinians would emmigrate if the proper incentive were placed before them.
To call any part of the British Mandatory Palestine "ancestral" is just pure BS!
You can be absolutely positive of one thing. Had the Jews lost in 1948 or even in 1967, there would never have been any question of a Palestine.
The west bank and Gaza along with Israeli territory would have been split up amongst the surrounding countries, no doubt after a bloody intra-Arab struggle. and those calling themselves "Palestinian" would be happy to be part of greater Syria or Egypt.

Posted by: JB Author Profile Page at November 21, 2009 6:52 PM

what could happen more than what happened in the second war?

The IDF moved freely in Lebanon and over Lebanon for 33 days, we have no air defences only long range missiles that can annoy israel not "destroy" Israel like michael is over speculating. If the IDF was able to squash hezbollah i am sure that he would not hesitate a second, but in fact he could not, and they admitted it.

maybe they can use a bigger bomb a new bomb Uncle Sam gave them to test.

Maybe then can drop a nuclear bomb to eliminate all of the Lebanese.

so know michael is promoting the big slogan "the destruction of israel, take cover, hezbollah can destroy you" all of you know that what weapons hezbollah has is nothing compared to Israel.

but maybe it is another preventive war drum roll, we have seen these lies before when the honest colin powel held up a paper saying he was sure, yes sure that Iraq was seeking nuclear matierial from africa.

deja vu

Posted by: akram sabra Author Profile Page at November 21, 2009 9:29 PM

Crosspatch,

If Hezbollah targets the entire country, then Israel seems to have some options but none of them are good ones and most are so drastic that implementing them would cause the world to gasp.

For one thing, I doubt very much that Israel will care how much the world is gasping once a couple of high rise office buildings or apartments have come toppling down. And for another, I really don't think the world will let out a peep at any Israeli retaliation for that, short of nuclear weapons. There certainly won't be any talk of "disproportionate response" at that point in time.

Posted by: programmmer_craig Author Profile Page at November 21, 2009 9:36 PM

@programmer_craig:

As much as I hate to break this to you, there are those (both persons and nations) who will complain about Israel's actions, no matter what the circumstances. For proof, just look at the comments of "anand" on this site.

And to think, some like "anand" have attained positions of power...

Posted by: gus3 Author Profile Page at November 22, 2009 12:23 AM

we have seen these lies before when the honest colin powel held up a paper saying he was sure, yes sure that Iraq was seeking nuclear matierial from africa.

Though it may not be obvious, there is a difference between a lie and an honest mistake.

Posted by: Solomon2 Author Profile Page at November 22, 2009 6:00 AM

Gus,
You're absolutely right about the Coptic people of Egypt, who are the indigenous Egyptians and who remain systematically marginalized after 1400 years of Arab-Muslim occupation. Further, there is discrimination against the black Egyptians, i.e. the Nubians of southern Egypt. See the recent story about Haifa Wehbe, a popular Lebanese singer, whose song contains racist lyrics about the black Nubians of Egypt. A spokesperson for the Nubians, Motez Isaaq, said: "Egyptians have to stop treating us as second class citizens," he said. "We are the original Egyptians and the country needs to remember it." I'm convinced that part of the impetus behind the whole "Zionism is racism" propaganda campaign is to focus the world's attention away from racism in the Arab world.

Posted by: Harold Author Profile Page at November 22, 2009 10:07 AM

gus3,

As much as I hate to break this to you, there are those (both persons and nations) who will complain about Israel's actions, no matter what the circumstances.

I'm sure many would like to call an obviously just war "unjust", but nobody would listen if they did. People aren't stupid. That set has only been able to finesse Israel into being the bad guy in the past even after they've been the victim of terrorist attacks because of the incompetence of their enemy on the battlefield. I just don't believe that's going to play if HA starts large scale bombardments of major Israeli cities. In fact, I'm sure it won't.

For proof, just look at the comments of "anand" on this site.

I disagree with you about anand. I don't subscribe to his views about trying to find a win-win for everyone nobody how sleazy the compromise is, but I don't believe anand has any malicious intent. He's just trying to be more "Henry Kissinger" than Henry Kissinger :)

Posted by: programmmer_craig Author Profile Page at November 22, 2009 10:07 AM

Unless I'm missing something, I don't see the relationship of the debate in the comments section to Mike's article per se.

But the confusion is understandable, because I read Mike's article and found it a mess of implications and half-statements.

Now, to avoid being a complete grouch, the info buried in the article is useful, relevant, etc. But to separate the wheat from the chaff, what exactly is the punchline here?

Iran is arming Hizballah with more powerful weaponry? I'm not sure why this is a) a surprise or b) anything different from the last 20 years of Iran-Hizballah. It's also (for the slow and the insane, I'm reffering only to the actions themselves I'm specifically mentioning) no different from what Israel is doing. Everyone's collecting the baddest weapons they can find to intimidate the other guys from doing any of the funny they do on the side - and Israel always has funny stuff going on the side (assassinations, black ops, etc, etc etc.)

Is it dangerous? Sure, arms races are always dangerous. But are you trying to head-fake towards the conclusion that Hezballah has a specific plan to launch all of these large nasty missiles at Israel in the near future?

If so, come out and say it straight. Otherwise, we have a bunch of rehashed psychobabble saying the same thing it always says. Nasrallah's insane? Bloodthristy, fanatical jihadists with their undetterable goal of eliminating Jews all over the world! boogaboogabooga!

Let me tell you something about fanatics. When they obtain long-range missiles, they don't sit around and store them in garages for years. When they get them, they fire them off right away.
Organizations that sit around collecting their missiles and then making speeches and political communique threats for years are political organizations. Bullies? Hostile ones? Ones that hate their enemies? Sure. But the hysteria is stupid.

If Hizballah ends up emptying their arsenal at Israel, Israel may indeed do horrible things to the Lebanese in response. If it happens, it will be the final stage of a multi-stage crisis that will play out before the world's eyes with plenty of time to find a less violent resolution than the Apocalyptic Confrontation. My only question is, if that ever comes, will Mike Totten be pumping out propaganda about how 'negotiating with crazy evil terrorists is tantamount to suicide', thus encouraging the disaster he's so worried about coming to pass?

Because it's often easy to feel that sensationalist BS constantly emphasizing the irrationality of Hizballah is, first, a self-fulfilling prophecy, and second, part of the problem and not the solution.

Hizballah, like everyone else, is somewhere on a spectrum between "completely rational" and completely "irrational". An influence guiding them towards rationality are the expectations of others- mostly among their Lebanese brethren, but also among the world - that they are rational.

A constant emphasis on the crazier aspects of people or organizations tends to make them more, not less, crazy.

Posted by: glasnost Author Profile Page at November 22, 2009 10:40 AM

How much longer will we have to put up with Gary Rosen's constant inability to obey the commands - not requests - put to him by Mike Totten, not to mention the rest of the commentariat, to shut the f*ck up about his never-ending crusade to convince the world that anand (not to mention me) is working for jihadists? Or secretly hates white people? Or etc?

Your point of view has been considered, Gary, and rejected. If you think anand's point of view is not correct, for the last time, argue against the point of view. STOP TRYING TO DEMONSTRATE THAT HIS POINT OF VIEW CONSTIUTUTES EVIDENCE OF HIS GOAL OF DESTROYING THE WEST, or whatever the similar f*ck your point is. That is completely unacceptable behavior. And because no one, including Mike, agrees with you about Anand's motives, and because everyone finds that behavior offensive, you will eventually be banned.

I used to be completely libertarian about comment sections. And I don't think that speculation about the motives of other commenters should be completely off limits in all cases - including me. But you're not a debater, you're an inquisitionist. You pursue the same points of view over and over again like a robot. And you essentially hijack the thread. Many threads. Back when this comment area was a little bit less rational and balanced, people like you got other people banned.

Your net effect, Gary left unchecked, would be eliminate from this thread everyone who holds a point of view on the topic you find unacceptable, that you personally find unacceptable to be expressed. But the thread doesn't agree with you. You're the jihadist on here. Your presence is a net loss on the ability to conduct free intellectual debate.

Am I wrong? Do you think that anand should be free to express his perspective on the topics at hand here? Or do you think that he should be shunned; rejected; excommunicated; castigated as an agent of evil; that his attempts at dialogue should be met with scorn and mockery; that he should ultimately be removed from this thread that he obviously pollutes with his presence?

What, exactly, is your point? anand hates white people! boogaboogabooga! You know what, WE GET THAT YOU THINK THAT!!! What recommendations do you have for us based on this insight of yours? Let's get your agenda out on the open, mmmkay?

Posted by: glasnost Author Profile Page at November 22, 2009 10:56 AM

Sigh, revision, paragraph four, "would be to eliminate from this thread everyone who holds a point of view on this topic that you find to be unacceptable to be expressed".

Posted by: glasnost Author Profile Page at November 22, 2009 10:59 AM

"If Israel's nuclear power plant comes under fire, if Tel Aviv skyscrapers explode from missile attacks, if Hezbollah manages to turn all of Israel into a kill zone where there is no place to run...."

There are a lot of "ifs' here.... so in the article it's all dramatic speculation on MJT's part...

But by the time he responds to this person Anand (response 5) MJT is treating his own speculation: in this case the horrific (deeply resonant) image of skyscrapers on fire, as an unqualified fact.

I am sure there is a name for this sort of incremental manipulation of peoples' perceptions. It certainly seems like a form of propaganda in my opinion. Much as I like MJT and this site, I do think that there are occasions where he is actually actively helping to create the moral/psychological landscape for future war and killing on a large scale.

I think that this is perhaps because MJT is sometimes "encouraged" to take a certain slant in his musings by people/organizations who help to fund his journalistic activities, for example he has enjoyed the largesse of the so-called "March 14th" bloc when covering Lebanon.

And writing up yet another well-timed "poor lil' Israel may one day be left with no choice but to pulverize every living thing north of the Litani" type-piece certainly fits in with this trend. But I think that Hezbollah would need a hell of a lot more weapons than all its artillery rockets to even come close to the apocalyptic vision MJT posits (now).

"Katyusha rockets are pipsqueakers. They don’t feel like pipsqueakers when they’re flying in your direction. But they are. They can’t be aimed worth a damn, and they’ll only do serious damage if they ignite something else after impact, like the gas tank of a car. They have almost no military value at all unless they are fired in barrages at a reasonably close range. From a distance they can only be counted on to break a few things almost at random in the general direction they’re aimed."

OMG!!!! Who said that?! Someone who hates Jews? (or Jooooos if you are G. Rosen)

Um.... actually that was MJT himself writing about...um.... well.... the effects of Hezbollah's rocket arsenal on northern Israel during the last Lebanon War.

http://www.michaeltotten.com/archives/001240.html

The fact is Israel was -- and remains -- the predominant conventional military power in the Middle East by a country mile. And it is the only nuclear armed country from the region too.

I therefore think MJT's myth building notions of a weak and vulnerable country are designed mainly as a means to justify overwhelming violence by the IDF/IAF at some point in the future.

Which is a shame, as I think influential and respected journalists ought to have a greater sense of responsibility than the "Ranting Rosen's" of this world.

Posted by: Microraptor Author Profile Page at November 22, 2009 1:08 PM

I think it would exceedingly unlikely for MJT to ban the former editor of Commentary magazine.

Posted by: Edgar Author Profile Page at November 22, 2009 2:59 PM

glasnost,

But are you trying to head-fake towards the conclusion that Hezballah has a specific plan to launch all of these large nasty missiles at Israel in the near future?

Since you want to get straight to the point: What do you think Hezbollah will do if Israel attacks nuke sites in Iran? Do you think Iran is just sending those longer range and more powerful missiles to HA as a "head fake"?

Do you think if their sponsors in Tehran tell HA to throw everything they've got at Tel Aviv do you you think HA will ignore them? It doesn't really seem that complicated to me. It seems almost like you are implying people are being deceptive just because they don't state the obvious?

Posted by: programmmer_craig Author Profile Page at November 22, 2009 3:10 PM

Edgar,

I believe you're referring to a different person with the same name.

Gary,

Either way, I'm just not getting the hate vibe from Anand, so, again, please chill. Thank you.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten Author Profile Page at November 22, 2009 3:28 PM

"we have seen these lies before when the honest colin powel held up a paper saying he was sure, yes sure that Iraq was seeking nuclear matierial from africa.

You really need to keep up with the debate. Wilson LIED about the results of his trip to Niger.

The Senate reported:

"Wilson has said in his book and in numerous public appearances that reports he reviewed from the U.S. ambassador to Niger, Barbro Owens-Kirkpatrick, "indicated that there was nothing to the Niger-Iraq uranium story . . . This too is untrue," the committee found. On the contrary, Owens-Kirkpatrick wrote a cable to the State Department which said that the initial CIA reporting of a Niger-Iraq uranium deal "provides sufficient details to warrant another hard look at Niger's uranium sales."

He and his wife Valerie Plame also lied about her involvement in the CIA asking him to go the Niger. But that is a another matter.

Posted by: Davod Author Profile Page at November 22, 2009 4:04 PM

....Hello, JB....

...."..The Brits initially lopped off 80% of the Mandate for the Saudi's cousins to create Trans-Jordan...and look where it got them. (Ha!!)...."..

Elsewhere I've cited the Sykes-Picot Agreement of 1916 as the clearest re-starting point of our modern day troubles in this hyper-complicated region, so I'm glad to read here someone else's (your) comments citing these colonial meddlesome forces after the collapse of the Ottomans. To the victors go the spoils (!), right?
--------- --------
But good grief, it's been down hill ever since.
And, frankly I see no point in America attempting to "mediate" at a table with the likes of any of the Islamic fanatics who won't recognize any thoughts other than slight variations on their terrorist theme. We now have cacophony.
Hence, the tack I'd take is that other than our continued overt support of our Israeli friends, it certainly would be welcome to witness substantially more Franco-British overt involvement here. It's flippant to say "they started this", but as I've mentioned, look at that map in the Wikipedia entry on "Sykes-Picot Agreement". It's clarifying.
Now, having re-emphasized that very strong British-French presence, currently in the shadows, let's not continue with America's being currently leaned upon to cool off this essentially un-resolvable hot tar pit.
We Americans simply cannot change inbred and by now genetic hatreds. It's futile.

Posted by: Morningside Author Profile Page at November 22, 2009 4:41 PM

@glasnost:

"do you think that... his attempts at dialogue should be met with scorn and mockery...?"

And therein lies the contradiction. As I pointed out in 2003 during the Iraq run-up, it's hypocritical to use one's freedom of speech to defend those who murder free speech advocates and political protesters.

But yes, get views like anand's out into the open, and they become easier to rebut.

Posted by: gus3 Author Profile Page at November 22, 2009 6:09 PM

Since you want to get straight to the point: What do you think Hezbollah will do if Israel attacks nuke sites in Iran? Do you think Iran is just sending those longer range and more powerful missiles to HA as a "head fake"?

Those are two separate questions. As to the second one, no, probably not. As to the first one: I don't know. When is this happening? What else has happened? How has the event played out?Do I think the spectrum of possibility space includes both ones where Hizballah does something like that in response to an Israeli strike on Iran, and ones where they don't? Why, yes.

But frankly I wasn't aware that this discussion had anything to do with Iranian responses to an Israeli strike on Iran. Did I miss that paragraph in Mike's article? It seemed to me that in made only the following points: #1 Hizballah is getting bigger missiles and #2 Hizballah is full of crazy people.

Do you think if their sponsors in Tehran tell HA to throw everything they've got at Tel Aviv do you you think HA will ignore them? It doesn't really seem that complicated to me. It seems almost like you are implying people are being deceptive just because they don't state the obvious?

The idea that Hizballah would launch a whole bunch of its damaging missiles at Israel in response to an Israeli strike on Iran is, at the very least, a serious possibility, maybe the most likely one, and a much more serious point than, say, the idea that Hizballah might just up and start bombing Israel full out with an arsenal of giant missiles with no warning whatsoever and in response to nothing, which, to me, was basically what the article implied.

But, if we're only talking about a response to bombing Iran, it's still not exactly a crisis, because there are two ways to deal with it:

#1. Don't bomb Iran.

#2. Since longer range missiles are a lot easier to shoot down with missile defense than, say, Katyusha rockets, and since the Patriot Version III has already demonstrated the ability to do this near-flawlessly for anything that doesn't get into orbit.... just shoot them down. And then, I'm sure, head off to do some revenge bombing, hopefully in a relatively restrained manner since you just took zero casualties... Ta da! Crisis over.

Posted by: glasnost Author Profile Page at November 22, 2009 8:11 PM

Michael, I will try to "chill". However I don't feel it is wrong for me to point out that regardless of anand's "vibe" he consistently advocates for Hamas, Hizbullah and the Iranian mullahs who have all shown explicitly genocidal malevolence towards Jews, not just Israelis or "Zionists".

As for glasnost's unhinged rant (replete with mocking the idea that Jews might actually be under attack "boogaboogabooga") I will only say that his outbursts are not as likely to moderate my posts as respectful requests from the person who actually runs this blog. I would like to comment on one small section of it:

"A constant emphasis on the crazier aspects of people or organizations tends to make them more, not less, crazy."

No, it is better to recognize when they are actually crazy.

Finally, no I'm not the Gary Rosen of Commentary. You'd be amazed how many people are out there with the same name.

Posted by: Gary Rosen Author Profile Page at November 22, 2009 9:41 PM

"Ta da! Crisis over."

No doubt glasnost has a lot of experience running small countries under constant attack from its neighbors.

Posted by: Gary Rosen Author Profile Page at November 22, 2009 9:47 PM

Microraptor: I think that this is perhaps because MJT is sometimes "encouraged" to take a certain slant in his musings by people/organizations who help to fund his journalistic activities, for example he has enjoyed the largesse of the so-called "March 14th" bloc when covering Lebanon.

Don't be silly. My opinions on these topics haven't budged an iota since I enjoyed the "largesse" of M14. I don't work for anyone in Lebanon and never have. My opinions about Hezbollah, Syria, Lebanon, Iran, etc, have been consistent.

I do think that there are occasions where he is actually actively helping to create the moral/psychological landscape for future war and killing on a large scale.

You know, I'd really actually much rather see no war at all in Lebanon and Israel. I happen to like both countries and have friends in each. You know that. Everyone here knows that.

Problem is the area tends to blow up in everyone's face while hardly anyone sees it coming -- especially on the Lebanese side. Lebanon has had a war every year for several years in a row now. And it's only going to be uglier and more violent if the pattern continues.

I used to be optimistic and think everything would work out terrifically, but I've had that beaten out of me. I'm not trying to "justify" any damn thing by pointing this stuff out.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten Author Profile Page at November 22, 2009 11:01 PM

Microraptor: I do think that there are occasions where he is actually actively helping to create the moral/psychological landscape for future war and killing on a large scale.

I can just imagine Benjamin Netanyahu waking up, getting his morning coffee, and reading this post on his computer with great interest.

He picks up the phone hurriedly and dials the Chief of Staff of the Army, waking him up.

"Gabi, it's time. There will never be a better moral or psychological landscape to start a war and begin killing on a large scale."

"Totten is giving us the green light. Now let's roll!"

Posted by: Edgar Author Profile Page at November 23, 2009 6:50 AM

programmer_craig

"I doubt very much that Israel will care how much the world is gasping once a couple of high rise office buildings or apartments have come toppling down."

I doubt it, too. I never meant to imply that they would. What I meant to say was that there are probably no "good" options for Israel at that point and some of options available are probably quite dramatic.

"I really don't think the world will let out a peep at any Israeli retaliation for that, short of nuclear weapons."

I don't think the world would let out much of a peep even at the use of nuclear weapons at that point. They will "gasp" but I don't think anyone will say much. Israel allowed the "International Community" through the UN a chance to handle this. If Hezbollah starts something again, I would expect the response from Israel to be something dramatic that prevents the situation from repeating itself and that is as much as I would be prepared to say. I can't see Israeli forces attempting to operate for any prolonged time in Hezbollah populated areas, though.

"There certainly won't be any talk of 'disproportionate response' at that point in time."

We agree, then.

Posted by: crosspatch Author Profile Page at November 27, 2009 12:57 AM

PS: For a feeling of how extreme Likud has become in its approach to the US, read http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1131258.html

Posted by: fnord Author Profile Page at November 29, 2009 5:00 AM
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