Friday, July 14, 2006

Where to?

The Khaleej Times reports (emphasis mine) something that is interesting not so much for what has happened as what has not -- at least yet:

BAGHDAD, Iraq - Thousands of Iraqis demonstrated in Baghdad on Friday praising the leader of Lebanon’s Hezbollah group and denouncing Israel and the United States for attacks against Lebanon. Some protesters said they were ready to fight the Israelis. ...

In the Shiite holy city of Karbala, Sheik Abdul Mahdi al-Karbalai, representative of Iraq’s top Shiite cleric Grand Ayatollah al-Sistani said” we condemn the Zionist terrorist offensive against Lebanon that targeted the infrastructure of this country, while Hezbollah hasn’t targeted the infrastructure of the Zionists. They targeted military facilities.” In the southern holy city of Kufa, Sheik Asaad al-Nassiri, an aide to radical, anti-US cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, said “we condemn and denounce the crimes of the Zionist enemy committed against our Lebanese people.”


Demonstrations are such an atypical form of expression, especially for the forces of Muqtada al-Sadr, that one wonders whether this isn't a political rather than an operational statement done on orders from Iran. For example, compare Sadr's statement to that of the Vatican's (shown below). By Sadr's bloodcurdling standards, they are a model of diplomatic tact.

With Pope Benedict XVI on vacation in the Italian Alps, the Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Angelo Sodano, read a public statement on Vatican Radio. That statement was released promptly by the Vatican press office on July 14.

Cardinal Sodano said that the Holy Father was carefully following news of the latest developments in the Middle East, "which risk degenerating into a conflict with international repercussions."

"As in the past, the Holy See also condemns both the terrorist attacks on the one side and the military reprisals on the other," he continued." He argued that Israel's right to self-defense "does not exempt it from respecting the norms of international law, especially as regards the protection of civilian populations."

"In particular," the statement continued, "the Holy See deplores the attack on Lebanon, a free and sovereign nation."

Sadr is on his best behavior on this issue so far.

Meanwhile, it is denial all around. Nobody wants to say they are openly at war with Israel. Iran denies Hezbollah intends to move the captured Israeli soldiers to Iran. Hezbollah denies firing rockets on Haifa. According to the AP: "Hezbollah deputy leader Sheik Naim Kassem denied in an telephone interview with Al-Jazeera that his group fired any rockets at Haifa, adding this will happen if 'Beirut or its southern suburbs are attacked.'" Lebanon denies it has any control over Hezbollah. The Los Angeles Times concludes "Despite Hezbollah's Ties to Iran and Syria, It Also Acts Alone".

The Jerusalem Post reports that Senate Armed Services Chairman John Warner is wary of escalation too.

Sen. John W. Warner, chairman of the Armed Services Committee, issued a written statement Friday calling on the Bush administration to "think through very carefully how Israel's extraordinary reaction could affect our operations in Iraq and our joint diplomatic efforts to resolve the Iranian nuclear issue.

"This is a very critical time for the US in the Middle East, and the Israeli actions will certainly have an impact beyond Lebanon and Gaza," Warner warned.

All around the system of nation states there are calls to stop on the brakes. But Hezbollah, as a proxy, is not constrained. According to ABC News, Hezbollah leader Nasrallah says, "You wanted an open war, and we are heading for an open war," he said. ... "To Haifa? Believe me, beyond and beyond Haifa." The Hezbollah leader was speaking as it exchanged fire with an Israeli warship in the harbor, which took a nonvital hit. He didn't even bother to mention how this was inconsistent with the earlier denial that Hezbollah struck Haifa.

Commentary

Developments in the last few hours suggest that Iran and Syria are showing a marked reluctance to escalate events in Lebanon any further. Perhaps they see this as a winning strategy. Mao's famous guerilla war dictum makes the argument for bleeding your enemy to death, except this time practiced on an international scale. "When the enemy advances, we retreat; when the enemy halts, we harass; when the enemy tires, we attack; when the enemy retreats, we pursue." The destruction of Hezbollah's infrastructure and forces in Southern Lebanon may be viewed as an acceptable price for "luring the enemy deep". "In Casablanca, life is cheap". War has a dynamic of its own and anything can happen. But I think it's fair to speculate that Iran at least, has perceived its peril -- for now.

It is very difficult to predict what can happen next. The only safe guess to make is that Israel will continue to pursue Hezbollah and find ways to push their rocket assets out of range, a problem made more difficult by uncertainty over what rockets Hezbollah has exactly and whether they intend to use it. For the banishment of rocketry to persist, Israel must find a way, in conjunction with the Lebanese government (which includes Hezbollah, remember) to remove Hezbollah from Southern Lebanon as required by treaty. Despite the noises in support of peace made by the "International Community" it is unlikely that any multinational force can be deployed to accomplish what the Lebanese Army could not do. Barring a miracle then, Hezbollah will probably return to southern Lebanon the instant Israel retreats. Therefore the horns of Israel's dilemma are that it must remain in Lebanon to keep Hezbollah from firing rockets, which it cannot easily do; or it must do something else.

All the choices in the "something else" are unpalatable. One tempting tidbit is to enter into a "deal" with Hezbollah, probably with a shelf life of a few months, by exchanging thousands of prisoners for the Israelis in captivity. The other is to widen the war by marching on Damascus or attacking Iran. The latter courses would be fraught with danger, not to mention the diplomatic opprobium. By not reacting physically (perhaps due to a lack of capability), Syria and Iran have set up a zugzwang (a move in chess where the opponent is put at a disadvantage by being forced to move when there are no good moves). It's Israel's move still, and the question is, what will it do?

34 Comments:

Blogger Doug said...

Those demonstrations in Baghdad smelled a lot like the ones in Lebanon/Syria after the revolt to me.
Why did Sistani have to chime in?
---
re Israel's strategy, here's what I posted in the previous thread:
---
2164th 7:00 AM,
The Israelis figure they gotta cut off the supply routes, at least.
...there is no ho chi minh Trail here.
Forgot where I read that. Here?
---
Whatever else happens, well, stuff happens, right.
Yoni figures they'll be fully mobilized by Mon or Tues.
Course they may be attacked by our State Dept before then.
...even if without Presidential approval, that would not be a problem, since enemies have yet to be prosecuted.

7/14/2006 02:23:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

My opinion is it's a poor choice by the Axis.
...course they have virtually the entire World on their side, so that does help.

7/14/2006 02:25:00 PM  
Blogger desert rat said...

Because Mr Sistani is an honest man. He does not meet with US, he makes no bones about it.
He knows that with stability we will leave, that is Mr Sistani's main objective, regarding US, to leave.

The Israeli, if they do not engage and defeat Syria, withdraw behind their fence and counter battery the missle launch sites.

And wait...

7/14/2006 02:33:00 PM  
Blogger wretchard said...

It's important to note that Iran has rejected the threat of Security Council sanctions on it for continuing its nuclear weapons program.

Also important to note that the Indian PM has named Pakistan as the hand behind the Mumbai train attacks. Mao's dictum about withdrawing to some safe haven may not have that much validity in a world where there are no quiet areas.

My own guess is that no one -- even the Bearded Ones -- is fully in control. And it's not as if they are that popular at home. So it's an inherently unstable situation.

7/14/2006 02:33:00 PM  
Blogger Cedarford said...

Just the freedom-loving, purple-fingered, noble, grateful to the West, and oh-so-brave Iraqi people expressing their honest opinions.

Ahhhhhh, Bush Democracy in action.

Did I mention how grateful they are for our 700 billion dollar "liberation"?

Oh, I did say how grateful they are.....as evinced by how friendly the people are with our troops now. Villagers inviting us into their homes, introducing their marriagable daughters??

I can't wait for the wave of moderation caused by the elected officials of Hamas, Hezbollah, Iran, and Iraq to sweep their blessings wider over the ME.

Bush the Wise Knows. Inside every human heart is the desire to be free.

Unfortunately, in some cultures that means free to sweep across the desert, wind in your hair, chopping the heads of Jews and infidels off, seizing their breeders. Democratically sharing the spoils of slaves and property as the Prophet laid down in the Holy Qu'ran. With dying in such a Jihad the ONLY SINGLE action in the whole religion that guarantees - absolutely - a place in Paradise.

Any chance Maximum Beloved War Leader read that book?

Nah!

7/14/2006 02:37:00 PM  
Blogger Aristides said...

My gut tells me that Israel should attack the axons that extend from inside Syria and Iran to Southern Lebanon and Gaza, focusing on the source points inside these countries from which logistical and political support for Hamas and Hezbollah flows outwards.

In other words, Israel should conduct limited targeting of facilities and people inside these countries that are most directly responsible for sustaining and arming the terrorists. I know it's risky, but if Israel can keep their attacks on these countries within the context of it's war on Hezbollah and Hamas, then they should succeed in shifting the zugzwang over to Iran and Syria.

7/14/2006 02:39:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

Bennet Interview Netanyaho

7/14/2006 02:41:00 PM  
Blogger soflauthor said...

Mao's game can be played both ways. From Israel's point of view: "When the enemy attacks, we respond and destroy his weapons and his people in numbers that matter; when the enemy withdraws, we destroy his infrastructure; but when that job is done, we withdraw, recognizing that occupation provides our enemy with a propaganda victory.

Israel can and should work to degrade Hezbollah's assets (e.g., weapons caches, training facilities, supply infrastructure). Then it should unilaterally withdraw, recognizing that there's no margin in remaining in Lebanon, and also recognizing that Hezbollah will return. Sadly, the game will continue ... the only question is who controls its flow.

7/14/2006 02:43:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

C-4
Bush the Wise Knows.
"Inside every human heart is the desire to be free."
---
Sometimes you must see their loving Souls through the eyes rather than their hearts.
At least when they're KGB'

7/14/2006 02:46:00 PM  
Blogger Wild Bill said...

I thank its just another ploy (like the toons uproar) to get the radicals out in the streets of the world and burn some cars and businesses.. Only thang is, it works better in France than it does in Israel..

7/14/2006 02:47:00 PM  
Blogger Wu Wei said...

Ultimately Sistani is a politician. He's a moderate and he can't afford to let al-Sadr paint him as being soft on Israel, or he (Sistani) might end up dead.

7/14/2006 03:26:00 PM  
Blogger Wu Wei said...

April 7, 2003
"The Americans are not there. They're not in Baghdad. There are no troops there. Never. They're not at all."
-- Baghdad Bob, Iraqi Propaganda Minister

------------------------
"One can ask oneself whether there isn't a sort of desire to destroy Lebanon," French President Jacques Chirac said of Israeli attacks that have killed 66 people, almost all civilians.
------------------------

I think Baghdad Bob must be making up the Lebanese casualty statistics. It's just amazing how day after day Israel kills nothing but civilians. Actually what is amazing is that the media never questions those statistics they get from the Lebanese government.

7/14/2006 03:37:00 PM  
Blogger Dan said...

You stupid, stupid assholes. Ha.

Wretchard, you should start another site under a new name to purge the morons from your wake.

7/14/2006 03:42:00 PM  
Blogger Wu Wei said...

Another amazing thing about the media reporting of these protests is that they make it sound like all those protesters started with an open mind, but they had to turn against Israel because of the way they fought the war. Like Reuters said, "[Israel] stirred growing international condemnation". The media makes it sound like if Israel hadn't bombed the airport, then al-Sadr would have supported them.

7/14/2006 03:54:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

Dennis Ross, Ambasador for Bush I and Clinton recomends "Daily Star"
in Lebanon.
Says they had conditions in '95:
You could be a Militant Terror organization, or run for office.
NOT Both!
Whata concept.
Maybe GWB can join Jimmah doing worldwide inspections of elections when he retires.
---
Yoni

Iran supplied Hezbollah with solid-fuel, Zelzal-2 missiles with a 200-km range, but these are not very accurate, since they do not have a self-guidance system.

The Zelzal-2 missiles, intended to strike broad targets such as communities and cities, are equipped with explosive warheads weighing up to 600 kilograms. The missiles are a later version of the Zelzal-1 missiles, which Iran first displayed in September 2005 at a military parade in Tehran, together with six Shihab-3 missiles.

---
Update on Navy Ship
Friday, July 14, 2006 4:18 PM
Our navy ship according to the latest report did in fact sustain heavy damage. We may also be missing 4 sailors.

-->
Israel: New Hezbollah rockets can reach Tel Aviv and Be'er Sheva

Friday, July 14, 2006 3:02 PM

7/14/2006 04:01:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

Live Blogging the Emergency UN Security Council Meeting on 7/14/2006
The Lebanon and Israel conflict meeting
politicallyexpedientpundit

7/14/2006 04:06:00 PM  
Blogger desert rat said...

w.w.,
Mr Maliki was known as a Sectarian, prior to his selection as PM. He was Mr al-Jaafari's spokes person. Like Tony Snow for Mr Bush, the apple doesn't fall far from the tree.

Please cite what incidents in his biography that confirm his moderation.
What actions have been taken, as opposed to "statements" that we can see in his month as Iraq's PM.

The sectarian violence has not diminished, the militias are not disarmed.
What makes Mr Maliki a "moderate">

7/14/2006 04:07:00 PM  
Blogger Wu Wei said...

> Please cite what incidents in his biography that confirm his moderation.

Beats me. I didn't say Maliki was a moderate.

7/14/2006 04:09:00 PM  
Blogger fjelehjifel said...

I think a zugzwang is what General Sherman would call pinning your enemy on the "horns of a dilemma."

Perhaps there is no way out for Israel short of sheering off at least one of the horns, in this case, Syria.

And Israel is unlikely to take that step without U.S. approval, which is not likely given the concomitant negative impact such an action would have on energy and asset prices, not to mention the Republican Party's electoral fortunes come the fall.

Ideally from Israel's perspective, it would be best to have the United States enter the war on its side, but President Bush is showing no inclination to honor his previous public promises to defend Israel should Hezbollah attacks it.

No one should blame Iran for believing the U.S. horn is already sheared off, leaving the smaller Israeli horn for Hezbollah to whittle down at its leisure.

7/14/2006 04:11:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

Memorex or Photoshop?
I'd give my left nut for those two, as a pair.

7/14/2006 04:14:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

Time for ALL you guys to cite any evidence that you aren't all maroons.

7/14/2006 04:16:00 PM  
Blogger desert rat said...

Look at 3:26 w.w.

Do you not read what you write?
"Wu Wei said...
Ultimately Sistani is a politician. He's a moderate and ..."


There may be some morons

7/14/2006 04:19:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

" Bush is showing no inclination to honor his previous public promises to defend Israel should Hezbollah attacks it"
---
Gee there's been so many, I forgot that one.

7/14/2006 04:20:00 PM  
Blogger desert rat said...

It had only been 45 minutes, w.w.

7/14/2006 04:22:00 PM  
Blogger MOTR_Dude said...

rat, he said Sistani is a moderate. He said nothing about Maliki. That said, I doubt one could view Sistani as more moderate than Maliki, so his statement was probably intended to mean "As Shiite clerics go, Sistani is among the more moderate." That lowers the bar of "moderation" sufficiently.

7/14/2006 04:41:00 PM  
Blogger allen said...

aristides; 2:39 PM

The fact that Israel has done little damage to high value human targets since beginning its offensive concerns me. Only two reasons come immediately to mind: 1) Israel broadcast its intent to escalate, giving these targets opportunity to go to ground or 2) Hezbollah anticipated the Israeli response and went to ground a priori. If the choice is “2”, then, Israel will just have to work harder to make the hits. However, and this is a worry, if the answer is “1”, the Israeli response is merely Sturm und Drang, signifying nothing.

7/14/2006 04:42:00 PM  
Blogger desert rat said...

moron see, moron do.

Guess I should be be a bit more on, myself.

7/14/2006 04:46:00 PM  
Blogger MOTR_Dude said...

More on that story later.

7/14/2006 04:49:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

Moderation is Moronic, whether Sistani does it or not.
- Goldwater

7/14/2006 05:40:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

Allen,
Tommorrow is that day when "you people" don't get out much, case you forgot.
Yoni says Monday or Tuesday will tell the tale.
Helprin said Olmert was seen meeting with Generals, 80% of them Air Force which is what he expects, rather than boots on the ground.
Time will tell.
Yoni says he's proud of the people for the first time in a long time in that they are highly united and prepared for as long as it takes.
---
Now I've responded in both threads, so I will add a note here:
Glad to see I'm not the only one that sees Condi as a Very Large Disappointment.
Academic and female to the core, far as I can tell.

7/14/2006 05:44:00 PM  
Blogger allen said...

doug; 5:44 PM

With all due respect, the guy who purportedly repaired my heat-pump was a "disappointment." As to the ever effervescent Dr. Rice, I am at a loss for words. Suffice to say, she should, by all means, be encouraged to return to academia, where the produce of her particular skill set is now in full flower.

7/14/2006 06:01:00 PM  
Blogger Karridine said...

Yowzah, yowzah! Gitcher Super-DotKonnectors here! Connect the dots, from Iran to Muqtada-al-Sadr, from Iran to Syria, from Iran to Saudi demonstrations! Yowzah!

(sotto voce: Super-DotKonnectors not guaranteed to give YOU brilliant insights; some restrictions may apply; your mileage may vary. Consult the Baha'is in your area.)

7/14/2006 09:09:00 PM  
Blogger pauldanish said...

I suspect Israel's goal is the destruction of Hezbolah, not merely a raid to trash its infrastructure. And I suspect the strategy is similar to the strategy in Gulf War I. Cut them off and then kill them. It will take to form of an air campaign that goes on somewhat longer than one might expect -- 10 days to two weeks perhaps -- followed by a major ground offensive, one that goes as far as Baalbek (but not into Beirut).


In the first 48 hours of the war the IAF flew 1,000 sortes and attacked more than 100 targets, probably a lot more given the sorte rate. Lebanon is 4,000 square miles (two thirds the size of Kuwait) and the area under Hezbollah control is likely only half that. A sorte rate of 500 a day for a week or two using precision guided munitions would likely accomplish what the air war accomplished in Kuwait, inflict major casualties on the enemy and destroy the enemy's ability and will to wage war before the ground incursion.

The air and ground assaults will likely do enormous damage the civilian infrastructure -- in Shia areas. Part of the subtext of the campaign will be a message to the Shia community that if you continue to sustain Hezbollah, you will lose everything and Hezbollah's handout will seem small in comparison with your loss.

Israel's destruction of transportation and communication infrastructure is being done in such a businesslike way that it suggests this sort of a campaign has been planned for some time and the country was waiting for the right moment to launch it. The plan was also likely vetted with the Bush Administration some time ago.

One further bit of evidence that a ground campaign is in the works is the abrupt withdrawal of the Golani and Grivati brigades from the Gaza campaign. Both are among the most formidable formations in the IDF and would be better used in Lebanon than in skirmishing in Gaza, where reserve units would be adequate. The fact that Golani was withdrawan before fighting broke out in Lebanon suggests to me that Israel saw trouble coming in the north and started implementing contingency plans early.

7/15/2006 12:53:00 AM  
Blogger Pyrthroes said...

Syria's time will come, and then Iran's. At the moment, the Party of God (Hezbollah; sic) has misjudged the consequences of its terrorist business-as-usual.

Last year, as the Cedar Revolution drove Assad's thugs back home, Bush sent our Sixth Fleet towards the Eastern Mediterranean coast... and then he stopped. Shades of Bush I in 1991! Had we accomplished a Syrian regime-change in 2005, the situation today would be quite radically different.

"Disproportion", "unilateralism", "imperial hubris"-- uniform Leftist epithets, from those with neither compassion nor compunction for victims of ghastly Statism ruining the lives of millions in Cuba, Iran, North Korea... nevermind general-purpose thuggeries in Syria, Venezuela, Zimbabwe and many others.

In life-and-death situations, even slow-motion ones playing over sixty years, all bets are off. The corruption and craven cowardice of Kofi Annan and his mis-named United Nations lies less in their abject failures to take action than in their blind refusal to address issues of war and peace at all.

We hope to Heaven that by 2018, the requisite 72 years after such an institution's founding [Russia's Soviet regime lasted from 1917 to 1989], Turtle Bay's disgusting farce will have decamped forever. For decades now, since Dag Hammarskjold's aerial assassination in the Congo, this organization has enabled and legitimized the absolute worst tendencies of all involved. Saddam Hussein's appalling "Oil for Peace" draped Kofi's scabrous mantle over massive payoffs to himself, his relatives and cronies like Sevan, to Chiefs of State including Jacques Chirac and Gerhard Schroder. (Deny it as they may, profess horror as they please; facts speak otherwise.)

So: More power to the IDF! If Islamofascism can never be entirely defeated, let's at least extirpate its terrorist exemplars for a generation or two, or three... quite possibly, Muslim culture is incapable of attaining civilized maturity. In the true Darwinian sense, Islam's child-molesting Prophet is unfit to face the modern world. Allah offers only death. Let the Party of Allah (Hezbollah; sic) advance to Nothingness-- tomorrow at sunrise would be none too soo

7/21/2006 08:16:00 AM  

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