Thursday, December 07, 2006

Die Wacht am Litani

Right after the Iraqi Study Group report's recommendation to engage Syria and Iran was released, and immediately after Robert Gates was overwhelmingly confirmed as the Secretary of Defense, and in the wake of a chorus proclaiming the need to build bridges in the Middle East, you'd think someone was listening. And somebody was. The AP/Breitbart reports:

Hezbollah leader Sheik Hassan Nasrallah promised thousands of supporters Thursday that they would eventually bring down Lebanon's Western-backed government ... In a rousing speech delivered on huge screens in two central Beirut squares, Nasrallah accused Saniora of conniving with Israel during its monthlong war with Hezbollah last summer. He claimed Saniora ordered the Lebanese army to confiscate Hezbollah's supplies of weapons -- his sharpest attack on the prime minister since the August cease-fire that ended the fighting.

"Didn't the prime minister of Lebanon work to cut off the supply lines?" Nasrallah said. He added that government officials had asked American envoys to persuade Israel to destroy Hezbollah. "Those are the ones responsible for the war, not the resistance," Nasrallah said.

Nasrallah said protests would continue until Hezbollah's demands are met. But he also said he was prepared to negotiate and that the Shiite guerrillas would use arms only against Israelis. "We are a people that will not be defeated in the battle of wills," he said to roars from the crowd. "We will not leave the streets before achieving the goal that saves Lebanon.  ...We will not lift our weapons in the face of anyone," Nasrallah said. "We will defeat you with our voices.

Nasrallah is openly accusing Saniora of attempting to abide by UN resolutions to cut off the arming of a foreign army on Lebanese soil -- something UNIFIL is supposed to prevent, if UNIFIL can be found -- and simultaneously admitting by implication the existence of a Ho Chi Minh trail into southern Lebanon. For those who want a Vietnam reference, there's one.

Saniora's allies have accused Hezbollah of being influenced by Iran and Syria, which they claim want to destabilize Lebanon by supporting the militant group's plans to oust the government.

Saniora's allies. But where is the UN? Where are the French led UNIFIL troops, the ones armed with LeClerc AFVs, the ones with SAMs all ready to open fire on Israeli aircraft? Don't worry, the Sudan -- Osama Bin Laden's former home -- is on the job. And he has advice for the Lebanese government. Why don't they "listen" to Hezbollah?

A Sudanese envoy, who arrived in Beirut on Thursday for talks with the rival factions, said the street protests should end, but supported the opposition's call for a broader-based government. "The basis of a solution must be founded on the formation of a national unity government and withdrawal of dialogue from the street to parliament," said Mustafa Osman Ismail, the envoy of Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir.


Blogger wretchard said...

Die Wacht am Rhein was actually inspired by the Franco-German conflict and predates the First World war. It was famously -- and somewhat unfairly -- featured in Casablanca, in the famous counter-sung episode with the Marsellaise.

12/07/2006 02:39:00 PM  
Blogger orlandoslug said...

check this out:

the best defense is a good offense... would appear that the shiites are looking for a makeover, as apparent in these photos, and that the hezbos are shoring up support amongst their youth, as they are no doubt suffering hardship and blame after the recent israeli incursion into s lebanon...

...could these devout muslims (or are they devout nationalists?) actually be getting buzzed? do the mullahs care?

12/07/2006 03:23:00 PM  
Blogger hdgreene said...

UNIFIL are hostages to Hezbollah to guarantee the Wests good behaviour.

12/07/2006 03:28:00 PM  
Blogger whit said...

Nasrallah observation:
That man can deliver a stemwinder of a speech. When he gets going, he reminds me of Hitler. Of course, I don't understand a word he says but the orator comes through.

12/07/2006 03:33:00 PM  
Blogger Yashmak said...

There is a book by John Ringo that carries the title "Watch on the Rhine" as well, which centers on (of all things) a futuristic alien invasion of earth, in which in a fit of desperation the world decides it must resurrect long dead Nazi SS soldiers to combat the alien threat.

The book comes with one of the scariest covers I've ever seen, complete with an SS Panzer officer in full dress uniform half out of the hatch of a futuristic tank.

It's actually quite an entertaining read.

12/07/2006 04:01:00 PM  
Blogger frankwolftown said...

This is what I've telling all my friends ever since the Isreal-Hez war ended. It didn't have a definite resolution it was just bunch fighting that was going on and then ended aburptly. It's only a matter of time before the war starts up again and man will it be spectacular! BTW has anyone else brought up to thier friends that this era is destined to huant the Democrats. Becuase every conservative is going remind people in '08 that once the Dems cam into power back '06 people overseas started walking over us like it was going out of style. People won't forget the event this post mentions and all the other similar events that have been happening lately.

12/07/2006 04:11:00 PM  
Blogger Utopia Parkway said...

Die Wacht am Rhein, another take. W, thanks for the reference. I learn something new every day.

According to the Lebanese Bloggers:

everybody who can is leaving the country.

The sad part is that the Lebanese have brought this on themselves. They have a weak govt. The govt abandoned the Shia to their own devices, which allowed Iran and Syria to gain their foothold in Lebanon.

When reading the Leb bloggers it becomes clear that although they may be westernized they mostly actively or passively hate Israel. I understand they didn't care for being bombed during the war, but there is a deeper hatred I see that mostly seems to be related to the palastinians.

While I don't want HB to take over I don't care much for the rest of the Lebs either.

12/07/2006 04:28:00 PM  
Blogger Wu Wei said...

It's interesting that the Christians have joined Hezbollah's side in Lebanon, at least some of them.

The opposition, which includes a populist Christian party, is demanding the formation of a national unity government and has paralyzed the heart of Beirut for the past week in an around-the-clock protest that shows no sign of fading.


So the Christofacists have joined together with the Islamofacists.

12/07/2006 04:29:00 PM  
Blogger Wu Wei said...

On a related subject, the Iraq Study Group already did the negotiations with Iran, with the permission of President Bush! Iran said "no". Since Tony Blair recently flew to Damascus to negotiate with them, with no apparent result, we can say that "we've been there, done that" and they don't want to cooperate.

The Republican chairman of the Iraq Study Group on Thursday defended the panel's call to seek Iran's help in stabilizing Iraq but conceded he was told recently by Tehran that was unlikely "this time around."

Former U.S. Secretary of State James Baker told U.S. lawmakers that President George W. Bush had given him permission recently to approach the Iranian government, with which the United States has no diplomatic relations.

"And they, in effect, said, 'we would not be inclined to help you this time around,'" Baker told the Senate Armed Services Committee.


12/07/2006 04:33:00 PM  
Blogger wretchard said...

On a related subject, the Iraq Study Group already did the negotiations with Iran, with the permission of President Bush! Iran said "no". Since Tony Blair recently flew to Damascus to negotiate with them, with no apparent result, we can say that "we've been there, done that" and they don't want to cooperate.

Yeah, but why should that keep us from trying? Wu Wei, some of your posts are surpassingly inspired.

12/07/2006 04:38:00 PM  
Blogger desert rat said...

So far Hezbollah is using People Power in Lebanon. No gunfire has been heard, except for an occasional political assassination. Business as usual.

Will it spread to other areas of Lebanon or stay centralized in Beirut?

12/07/2006 04:48:00 PM  
Blogger Wu Wei said...

> No gunfire has been heard, except for an occasional political assassination.

The first few shots have been fired:

The protests have already ignited several sectarian clashes between Shi'ite Muslims and Sunnis in Beirut, with one Shi'ite demonstrator shot dead in a Sunni neighborhood last Sunday.
(from article previously quoted)

Shiite Muslims on Tuesday buried a young man killed in street clashes in a Sunni Muslim neighborhood as Lebanon's army commander warned that the military may not be able to contain any further protests linked to the country's tense political standoff...

The U.S.-backed government is supported largely by Sunnis, while the opposition -- led by the pro-Syrian Hezbollah -- enjoys wide support among Shiites. Lebanon's Christians are split between the two camps.


Since Sunni Muslims are the main opposition to Hezbollah, we need to decide whether to join with them against Hezbollah and some Christians.

12/07/2006 05:03:00 PM  
Blogger Cedarford said...

In 30 years of negotiating with the Soviets, the most common word uttered was "nyet!".

Then in the early 70s a few "da's" came out and things slowly got better.

Through perstance, we talked and negotiated onward, relationships were formed, and all Nixon and Reagan did was seal deals long proposed, formed and slowly agreed to in backrooms.

The neocon fixation that like with Castro, the US must never talk with our foes...because it "only rewards them and delays driving them to their knees" is a fine conceit.

12/07/2006 05:04:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

c4: The neocon fixation that like with Castro, the US must never talk with our foes...

OK, so we talk then. Only, formal dialogue is too slow, too stiff. State Dept. should open IM chat with the mullahs, to keep the dialogue fresh, innovative, edgy.


saw ur Rguard xercise. Flying boats? Rtarded. Gulf is pwned

Iraq is pwned, ur pwned

How much gas u got? Not enuf 2 drive 12th imam's Caddy to Qom. Ur embargo pwned

no stones. And 'pwned' is cold slang

dude ive got like 2 hearing aides, don't ask me slang

brb, destiny's callin

ur all pwned soon

12/07/2006 05:50:00 PM  
Blogger charlotte said...

LOL, Tex!

12/07/2006 05:56:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

>tex Methinks Iran & Syria are pwning us only because they hax.

12/07/2006 06:00:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Cedarford said, "The neocon fixation that like with Castro, the US must never talk with our foes...because it 'only rewards them and delays driving them to their knees' is a fine conceit."

The only thing I cannot stomach is when they say they want to bring democracy to these same countries they refuse to speak with. Democracy is nothing if not a lot of jawboning.

12/07/2006 06:30:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

hdgreene said, "UNIFIL are hostages to Hezbollah to guarantee the Wests good behaviour."

Join the UN, wear a blue hat, see the world, become a hostage!

12/07/2006 06:32:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

woman catholic wrote: Join the UN, wear a blue hat, see the world, become a hostage!

Want to get up close and personal with a member of Hezbollah? All you gotta do is sign up and before you know it, you'll be living side-by-side with real terrorists!

Fight (Hollywood)piracy, get the real deal now! Guns and armour sold separately.

12/07/2006 06:40:00 PM  
Blogger Wu Wei said...

Was CIA covert ops encourage this? Is there a real opportunity for democracy to change Iran?

Students Cry Out for Freedom in Large Demonstration at Tehran University

Thursday , December 07, 2006

TEHRAN, Iran — "What do we want? Freedom!"

That was one of the banners a large crowd waved on Wednesday at a demonstration at Tehran University.

As many as 2,000 students turned out to demand personal freedom in the Islamic state, which has cracked down on political activity on campus this year in what some have called the Second Cultural Revolution...

The police apparently made no effort to stop the demonstration, which ended peacefully.

One banner, in Persian, read: "If I rise up and you rise up, everyone will rise up."...

The student protest was openly defiant of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad,


12/07/2006 06:57:00 PM  
Blogger cjr said...

Diplomacy is the art of saying "nice doggie" while you look around for a rock. If there is no rock, then diplomacy is useless.
The Soviets started talking in the 70's because that is when they started to realize that they were losing the cold war and for no other reason. They realized that the US rock was getting bigger and bigger and the Soviet rock was getting more and more brittle.

12/07/2006 07:03:00 PM  
Blogger Tarnsman said...

Seeing the title of Wretchard's piece I immediately thought of this Wacht am Rhein:

"On 16 December 1944, Hitler's armies suddenly seemed to have regained the insurmountable skill that had brought them victory after victory in the first years of the war. Most Americans at the time believed the inevitable triumph of Allied arms in the war against Germany was at most only a few weeks away. Yet Hitler was convinced the war could still be decided in the Reich's favor in the west. For many months, he and his closest advisors had worked to reorganize and re-equip the beaten divisions streaming back to Germany on both fronts. A massive surprise counterattack — deceptively code-named "Wacht am Rhein" (Watch on the Rhine) - against the weakly held Ardennes sector of the American front was prepared.

Before the offensive the Allies were virtually blind to German troop movement. During the reconquest of France the extensive network of the French resistance had provided valuable intelligence about German dispositions. Now that they had reached the German border this source dried up. In France orders had been relayed within the German army using radio messages enciphered by the Enigma machine, and these could be picked up and decrypted by Allied codebreakers to give the intelligence known as ULTRA. In Germany such orders were typically transmitted using telephone and teleprinter, and a special radio silence order was imposed on all matters concerning the upcoming offensive. The major crackdown in the Wehrmacht after the July 20 Plot resulted in much tighter security and fewer leaks. The foggy autumn weather also prevented Allied reconnaissance planes from correctly assessing the ground situation.

Thus Allied High Command considered the Ardennes a quiet sector, relying on assessments from their intelligence services that the Germans were unable to launch any major offensive operations this late in the war. What little intelligence they had led the Allies to believe precisely what the Germans wanted them to believe—that preparations were being carried out only for defensive, not offensive operations. In fact, due to the Germans' efforts, the Allies were led to believe that a new defensive army was being formed around Dusseldorf in the northern Rhine, possibly to defend against British attack. This was done by increasing the number of flak batteries in the area and the artificial multiplication of radio transmissions in the area. The Allies at this point thought the information was of no importance. All of this meant that the attack, when it came, completely surprised the Allied forces.

Because the Ardennes were considered a quiet sector, economy-of-force considerations led it to be used as a training ground for new units and a rest area for units that had seen hard fighting. The US units deployed in the Ardennes thus were a mixture of inexperienced troops (such as the rookie U.S. 99th and 106th Divisions), and battle-hardened troops sent to that sector to recuperate (the U.S. 2nd Division).

The German assault began on December 16, 1944, at 0530 hrs with a massive artillery barrage on the Allied troops facing the 6th SS Panzer Army. By 0800 all three German armies attacked through the Ardennes. In the northern sector Dietrich's 6th SS Panzer Army assaulted Losheim Gap and the Elsenborn Ridge in an effort to break through to Liège. In the centre von Manteuffel's 5th Panzer Army attacked towards Bastogne and St. Vith, both road junctions of great strategic importance. In the south, Brandenberger's 7th Army pushed towards Luxembourg in their efforts to secure the flank from Allied attacks.

Attacks by the 6th SS Panzer Army infantry units in the north fared badly due to unexpectedly fierce resistance by the U.S. 2nd Infantry Division and U.S. 99th Infantry Division, which was attached to the 2nd, at the Elsenborn Ridge, stalling their advance; this forced Dietrich to unleash his panzer forces early. Starting on December 16, however, snowstorms engulfed parts of the Ardennes area. While having the desired effect of keeping the Allied aircraft grounded, the weather also proved troublesome for the Germans as poor road conditions hampered their advance. Poor traffic control led to massive traffic jams and fuel shortages in forward units.

The Germans fared better in the center (the 20 mile wide Schnee Eifel sector) as they attacked positions held by the U.S. 28th Infantry Division and the U.S. 106th Infantry Division. The remarkable feature here was that the German attackers lacked any such overwhelming strength as had been deployed in the north; but it succeeded in surrounding two regiments (422nd and 423rd) of the 106th Division in a pincer movement and forced their surrender. That was a tribute to the way that Manteuffel’s new tactics had been applied. The official U.S. Army history states: At least seven thousand [men] were lost here and the figure probably is closer to eight or nine thousand. The amount lost in arms and equipment, of course, was very substantial. The Schnee Eifel battle, therefore, represents the most serious reverse suffered by American arms during the operations of 1944-45 in the European theater."

That, my hand wringing friends, is what a true defeat looks like. The Battle of the Bulge is something to remember as you wring your hands claiming Iraq is a disaster and there is no hope of victory. While the United States Army was bloodied (19,000 dead) in the Battle of the Bulge, it was the German Army that was defeated and broken in the end.

"There is no victory without sacrifice."

12/07/2006 08:53:00 PM  
Blogger sirius_sir said...

Walter Cronkite, reporting on this battle to the nation, opined that contrary to blithe assurances by our military command to the contrary, we were not, in fact, winning this war, but losing it badly.

Fortunately, cooler heads prevailed and Uncle Walter's day of infamy was reserved for much later.

And that's the way it was... (not really)

12/08/2006 09:24:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If the ISG represents the latest 'thinking' in terms of US policy in the ME it seems we're still no further along in developing a coherent strategy.

12/08/2006 10:30:00 AM  
Blogger troutjacki said...


It is a myth that the Allied Forces were unaware of the possibility of a German Fall/Winter offensive in the Ardennes in 1944. Allied Intelligence warned Commanders on the three specific occasions but each time the Germans postponed the attack. By mid-December even the theater and Army G-2s had concluded that they were seeing ghosts. However, the Third Army G-2 Colonel Oscar Koch believed the intelligence reports and had a sympathetic Commander in George Patton. Patton ordered his G-3 to prepare a plan for the famous 90 degree wheel to the north well before the German attack. That is why he confidently promised his initial counterattack would begin with 48 hours. He took the warning seriously and prepared for the eventually.

The Ardennes represents a phenomenon of Warning Fatigue, i.e., the tendency of commanders to discount warning intelligence when a forecast event fails to take place when predicted. The three false warning messages convinced the Allies that no attack would happen when the delay was a result of German decisions.

12/08/2006 10:35:00 AM  

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