Thursday, July 27, 2006

Pulp Fiction

I am going to write a completely speculative piece on the fighting in Lebanon. It's born of a need to make sense of events which on the face of it are incomprehensible, though by so doing the post detaches itself from verifiable fact. The reader is warned. Read on if you wish for entertainment but beware that what follows is hypothesis, there aren't even going to be hyperlinks for reference.

The first question that must be answered in divining IDF intentions in Lebanon is what the center of gravity of the Hezbollah is, because that is what the IDF must be aiming to destroy. The two obvious ones are Hezbollah's ability to influence the Lebanese government and the motor of that influence -- the military force that Hezbollah maintains in the south. A step down we can ask, what is the most important component of Hezbollah's power in the south? Again the answer is easy. It is the Hezbollah cadres themselves. Hezbollah's most precious possession isn't Katyushas, long-range rockets, night vision goggles or antitank missiles or electronic equipment. It is the trained core of its military force. Equipment can be replaced but Hezbollah's cadres represent an expensive, almost irreplaceable investment. In them resides the organizational knowledge of Nasrallah's organization. It embodies man-decades of operational experience against Israel. Rockets can be replaced. The stars of Hezbollah's operational force are less expendable.

From this observation I'm going to say that despite the received wisdom of the newspapers to the contrary, the fighting at Maroun al-Ras and Bint Jbeil have been and continue to be an unmitigated defeat for the Hezbollah. The Hezbollah are doing the single most stupid thing imaginable for a guerilla organization. They are fighting to keep territory. Oh, I know that this will be justified in terms of "inflicting casualties" on the Israelis. But the Hez are probably losing 10 for every Israeli lost. A bad bargain for Israel you say? No. A bad bargain for Hezbollah to trade their terrorist elite for highly trained but nevertheless conventional infantry. Guerillas should trade 1 for 10, not 10 for 1.

Reduced to its essentials, the IDF strategy may be ridiculously simple: fix the Hezbollah force in Southern Lebanon while detaching its command structure from the field by simultaneously striking Beirut. One of the great mysteries, upon which newpaper accounts shed no light, is why the IDF should so furiously pulverize Hezbollah's enclaves in southern Beirut, blockade the port and disable the airport. The object isn't to shut down Lebanon. It is to momentarily disorient the Hezbollah headquarters in Beirut, so that in a moment of absentmindedness, the Hezbollah forces in Southern Lebanon will do what comes most naturally: commit themselves against the IDF.

I should add that, although it sounds underhanded, the IDF may have cleverly used their warning to evacuate the Hezbollahland villages to great effect. Nothing so absorbs the energy of states and protostates like Hezbollah than the need to relocate tens of thousands of their supporters while fighting the IDF. Hezbollah's fighters in Southern Lebanon have three tasks they've willy-nilly accepted: to keep the IDF at bay, evacuate their supporters and stay in contact with Nasrallah in Beirut. They will fail in two out of three. What they should have done while they had the chance was run but now it is probably too late. The Hez are fighting the IDF; and moving rockets northward as they can in the belief that these militarily useless weapons are somehow important; relocating their supporters and fighting a diplomatic war at one and the same time. And all this with their offices bombed out. It creates a window of opportunity.

Prestidigitation is defined as "skill in performing magic or conjuring tricks with the hands". From the very beginning the IDF has kept the Hezbollah guessing about its true intentions. Nasrallah made the cardinal mistake of projecting his own estimate by believing that Israel would respond to his abduction of IDF soldiers with a limited cross border raid of their own. The IDF responded by smashing his Beirut headquarters and fixing the Hezbollah main force in the south. Nasrallah, Iran and Syria made a second error in believing that Israel, perhaps reinforced by the diplomaic mummery which encouraged the illusion, would be forced to accept a ceasefire within a fortnight only to discover that neither the international force was forthcoming (no one had the troops to put on the ground) nor would the Bush administration waver in its support for Israel. In reality Israel has been forced to accept nothing. No ceasefire is in sight. And now there is word that the Israeli cabinet is meeting to decide whether to expand its operation further north. Not a ceasefire but a further advance.

The next chimera being dangled before Nasrallah is the idea that Israel is only aiming to establish some buffer zone of about 15 miles in width. It's the conventional wisdom and maybe Nasrallah hopes it's true. But already doubt is apparently creeping into his soul. Sixty or more Lebanese have reportedly been arrested as Israeli spies in Beirut. The Hezbollah see them everywhere. Although subsequently denied, there were reports that Nasrallah had sought refuge in the Iranian embassy. In the meantime Ahmadinehjad and Assad are ceaselessly calling for ceasefires. Everywhere the word "ceasefire" is heard. But never from Israel. Maybe somewhere in his mind Nasrallah's realized that the IDF isn't after some buffer zone: they are after him and his cadre. His cadre they already have: they are fighting to keep real estate they are doomed to lose. Nasrallah himself they may have by and by.  But there may be worse to come. Whether accidental or not, the IDF attack on Kiyam raises the specter that it will operate eastward against the Bekaa valley and perhaps eventually against the Beirut-Damascus highway. That would cut off supplies from Syria to his men in the south and to his command element in Damascus. Then where would Nasrallah's influence over Lebanese politics be? And how should he fare against his former adversaries in the recently concluded Civil War? With the onus of all the ruination he has visited upon Lebanon upon him and his forces in stuck in a southern front against the IDF he may find it hard to cut the swath he once did in government circles.

I warned the reader that this post would be pure speculation. No one should treat it seriously. Good night everybody.


Blogger enscout said...

Call it speculation - it's your prerogative.

I see it as insightful analysis and, in all likelihood, truth.

Few in history could divine such from what has become a very confusing two weeks.

Thank You!

7/27/2006 04:42:00 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Fox reports a rumor that Nasrallah and the Israeli hostages are being held in Iran's Beruit embassy.

Let's imagine another fanciful act in this play. Israeli intelligence confirms this and their forces enter Beruit quickly enough to cut the Iranian embassy escape tunnels and lay siege.

Who does what, next? How does it end?

7/27/2006 04:57:00 AM  
Blogger L. C. Staples said...

I would be happy to accept these conjectures. However, what if (as we are hearing from many outlets) the IDF's heavy hand is leading to a surge in Hezbollah's popularity among the lower classes -- while simultaneously the upper classes see the increased prospects for ongoing war and turmoil and prepare to desert the country?

Israel might be trading dozens of trained terrorist enemies for thousands of untrained ones.

7/27/2006 05:24:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

Israel has an unfair advantage: A real Ally.
Would that the USA were so lucky.
Now the Israeli govt must capitalize.
True friends of Israel cannot let the Dems take power
By Dick Morris and Eileen McGann
Ten years ago, on April 18, 1996, Israel attacked Hezbollah in Lebanon for 16 days in an operation called Grapes of Wrath. The global condemnation of Israel was fierce, especially when it bombed a U.N. refugee camp, killing 107 people, an attack that Tel Aviv said was a mistake.
At the time, the United States did nothing to stop the tide from turning against Israel and President Clinton said,
I think it is important that we do everything we can to bring an end to the violence.”

In private, Clinton seethed at the Israeli attack, saying he had discussed with Israeli Prime Minister Shimon Peres the possibility of concluding a military defense treaty with his nation, pledging U.S. aid in the event of an attack.

“They really want this guarantee from us,” Clinton told me. “I would have given them the commitment, too, but now I can’t because of the uproar over the refugee camp bombing.”
No such treaty was ever signed.

Clinton’s willingness to use American power to force a cease-fire on Israel before it had fully eradicated Hezbollah stands in stark and sharp contrast to George Bush’s insistence on letting Israel proceed with its attacks until the terrorist group is neutralized.
In a nutshell, this illustrates the difference between the Democratic and Republican approaches to Israeli security.
Bush and his administration clearly see the Israeli attack as an opportunity to clean out terrorist cells that have come to be pivotal in Lebanon.
With Hezbollah’s power extending into the cabinet in Beirut, it is clear that Israeli military action is necessary to forestall the creation of a terrorist state on its northern border.

While Clinton said he embraced the need for Israeli security, when the going got rough, he bowed to world opinion and called for a cease-fire.
When the United States asks Israel to stop fighting, it is like a boxer’s manager throwing in the towel.
The bottom line is that true friends of Israel cannot afford to let the Democrats take power in Washington.

7/27/2006 05:29:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

"(as we are hearing from many outlets)"

7/27/2006 05:31:00 AM  
Blogger RattlerGator said...

Sammler, Sammler, Sammler -- forever the conjectures about creating terrorists.

Come on, how long are folks going to stick to that script? Oooooooooh, you're creating terrorists! By that logic you could never do a damn thing in that part of the world -- have you ever thought that through.

The flytrap, despite all the short term carping, is working beautifully in an area of the world where we are still -- still -- told we are attempting the impossible.

It's mighty easy to sit back on the sidelines and bitch and moan -- this administration gets tremendous credit from me for getting down in the trenches and getting to work. That includes looking some governments in the area in the eye and saying, diplomatically, shit or get off the pot.

The United States and Israel are both doing some heavy lifting right now, and much more could be done if the surrender monkeys would just STFU.

7/27/2006 05:35:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

Mitchell Bard: Hizballah Terrorist Attacks Since May 2000 .
A LONG list: Check it out.

7/27/2006 05:36:00 AM  
Blogger goesh said...

You hit the nail with the right hammer. What hezzy couldn't resist engaging the hated Jews? I once had a nice conversation with an IDF Officer and when he asked me about my navigation skills, I told him navigation was easy - you just advance towards the sound of gunfire. He laughed long and loud. Our young men flocked to the recruiting stations after 9/11 so why in God's name wouldn't hezzy fighters do the same and flock to southern Lebanon? Like you pointed out, the immeidate IDF objective was to disrupt command control and communication, so the instinct is to advance and engage on the part of the hezzy grunts. Well? If a group of armed jihadis was coming across the border into N. Dakota do you really think the good ol' boys from S. Dakota would just stand around with their fingers up their butts waiting to be told to go north and kill the bas****?? Of course not. IDF has killed a couple thousand already - you can get your boots on that. The Che-loving, Liberal media would have us all believe that every single swinging dick in those hezzy parades we see every so often is highly trained and blooded, hardened combat veterans. Most are hand clappers that have been taught to march. There are Iranian special forces types by the dozens in the thick of it with IDF along with hezzy fighters - they are embedded with civilians and firing from schools, mosques and homes and holding civilian hostages as shields and some of us are buying into the Che-media fantasy that the hezzies are winning because IDF has taken 30+ KIAs in some nasty fire fights in civilian terrain. A media report yesterday said IDF had taken heavy casualties. I expected to see numbers in the hundreds but saw the number 14. Wow! Only Che and MSM would have an erection over that number. Hogwash! If I holed up and used my wife and grandkids as human shields, I could take out a few of the men coming to get me too.

7/27/2006 05:36:00 AM  
Blogger Deuce ☂ said...

..."The first question that must be answered in divining IDF intentions in Lebanon is what the center of gravity of the Hezbollah is, because that is what the IDF must be aiming to destroy."

- The center of gravity for Islamic jihad has shifted from Al-qaeda to Hezbollah. If Hezbollah is not decimated, which means six thousand dead hezzis and done so with ground troops, which will require fifty thousand Israelis, Hezbollah will own the legend, and Tehran becomes the Islamic Rome. Hezbollah will have succeeded in doing what Al-qaeda did not and that is identifying a nation state, Iran, as the capital of militant Islam. It will have been a classic blunder for Iran. Israel has to win. I see no military genius in strategy so far. Jihad will be the likely winner.

- The center of American Policy in the Middle East has shifted to what Israeli Politicians decide. Israel decides, America reacts. A similar pattern as in Iraq. The US under Bush, spends untold billions of borrowed dollars in Iraq, a division of casualties and depleats vast stores of American Political and Diplomatic Capital. Shiite politicians play the tune there. The US dances to their tune. Which reminds us of a similar pattern with Mexican politicians making decisions about the legacy of US citizens.

I wish it were fiction.

7/27/2006 05:39:00 AM  
Blogger Theodoric said...

Did the Hez have any choice really?

Either they could stay and fight from prepared positions, or they could have opted for maneuver warfare.

7/27/2006 05:39:00 AM  
Blogger enscout said...


As we say in 'git-er-dun' country - lead, follow or get out of the way!

7/27/2006 05:41:00 AM  
Blogger Huan said...

it will not be enough for Israel to destroy the military capability in the conflict, it must also prevent the social arm of Hezbollah from rebuilding southern Lebanon. It is this social function that legitimizes and popularizes Hezbollah.
After the ceasefire, the US must do all it can to help the central Lebanese rebuild without Hezbollah's involvement.

7/27/2006 05:45:00 AM  
Blogger Anointiata Delenda Est said...

The penny dropped. Since 9/11, there has been a battle to win the hearts and minds of the silent majority in the West.

By now, we all know they hate us; my wife's knitting circle sees the game. We are all Israelis now. It's a fight for our existence.

Behind most disturbances on the planet, there is a mad Mullah. Sadr city, Lebanon, Iran, Bali, London. Go for them.

Maybe somewhere in his mind Nasrallah's realized that the IDF isn't after some buffer zone: they are after him and his cadre.


And it's not just his mind; it's in the mind of all the Hizb'allah supporters (When they went for the Mullahs, I didn't...). Worse, it's in the minds of all the ME property investors in Beirut contemplating their loss of $$$billions. They are fighting to keep real estate they are doomed to lose unless they sort out Hiz.

The Israelis judged world opinion perfectly. Even now, they are saying (correctly) that the indeterminate response from the Rome meeting proves that the world endorses their position - and it does.

Sometimes random events can form a pattern, but given enough time, the pattern breaks.

Arab culture has played the victim card for too long, sadly at the expense of its own citizens.

Everybody knows.

What a sad, sad, sad childish picture. When will the Arabs grow up?


7/27/2006 05:51:00 AM  
Blogger Deuce ☂ said...

Anointiata Delenda Est said...
"The penny dropped. Since 9/11, there has been a battle to win the hearts and minds of the silent majority in the West.

By now, we all know they hate us; my wife's knitting circle sees the game. We are all Israelis now."..

Speak for yourself. I am not an Israeli. I am not an Iraqi. I am not a Mexican. I am an American by choice. Do not have the audacity to speak for the other three hundred million Americans.

7/27/2006 05:58:00 AM  
Blogger hdgreene said...

The Hez's greatest victory may have been its greatest mistake: attacking the Israeli navy with sophisticated anti-ship weapons. It is only natural to ask: was that merchant ship hit by accident or by "accident" -- a warning that other "accidents" might befall huge container vessels. Does that give the Greek Navy and the Turks something to think about? They should have had a million demonstrators in Athens by now. The Greek left is good for it (Of course, I haven't checked the news...)

In fact, the use of such a weapon by Iran's agents may have been a mistake for Iran as well. Imagine how they will behave when they have nukes? The US might actually be able to pull together a NATO ultimatum for the Iranian regime to strip itself of its weapons program or face a NATO sponsored attack. I would have thought that impossible a few weeks ago, but merely unlikely now.

A NATO backed Ultimatum, though, would probably cause Iran to fold. If NATO takes part in a Nuke Sites bombing campaign it will cleave the alliance together when Iran hopes to cleave it apart. The "twelvers" (the "apocalypse now" crowd) may be sacrificed by the regime and Europe treated to the "Sweetness and Light" routine for a few years. Gee, this speculation stuff is fun.

I suspected Israel might be given "two weeks" and then given two weeks more for practical tactical reasons. This would tempt the Hez to fight them to a stop in their bunkers and declare a huge victory. Also, if they know you're going for the throat they might use the WMD they don't have.

All this was prepared for years to take place during an Iranian nuke crisis but the trip wire got tripped early. And it is the "Twelvers" fault.

7/27/2006 06:06:00 AM  
Blogger buddy larsen said...

Re hdgreene's post, thank Israel--we all need to thank Israel--for not following Iran's script.

7/27/2006 06:21:00 AM  
Blogger ghoullio said...

The AP is reporting that Israel has decided NOT to expand the ground campaign but to call up 3 more divisions. Olmert is confident in his plan of action.

What does THAT mean?

BTW, 14 soldiers KIA can be quite a catastrophe for a small state like Israel. A single Israeli soldier is worth the lives of 20 terrorist, I doubt they have killed that many.

As for Hezbullah's master plan, it seems that they have succeeded in galvanizing Israel. They will stand united as rockets smash cemetaries and chemical plants.

7/27/2006 06:46:00 AM  
Blogger desert rat said...

The IDF puts HB deaths in the "hundreds".
The Israelis say they are not going to "expand" the combat, accoding to FOX.
The IDF took on the HB's HQ in the AO and in doing so has met some of the HB's elite.
Is the IDF trying to create a Khe Sahn? Making the HB believe they have their own Dien Bien Phu, doubtful.
The Israeli are, according to reports, falling back on the IAF to engage the HB.

Mr Nas is reported to be in Damascus. Now, that is funny stuff.

7/27/2006 06:51:00 AM  
Blogger Anointiata Delenda Est said...


Remember when we were "all Americans now"?

It was a headline in a French newspaper.

Round about 9/11.


Sorry BC.

7/27/2006 06:57:00 AM  
Blogger PeterBoston said...

I agree that the primary mission of the IDF is or should be to kill Hizbu'allah fighters, ammo carriers, and water carriers everywhere and anywhere they can be found. The IAF appears to be carrying the load and I hope they extend their targeting to every HB related falafel shop in Lebanon.

I disagree, however, that the IDF has been seriously committed to the fight. I've mentioned a couple times a hope that the IDF cream-puff strategy is to draw HB fighters South by offering them the prospect of defeating an elite Israeli brigade. Two hundred Hizbu'allah KIA is strategically meaningless if their troop strength is anywhere near the suspected 10,000. I don't know what their troop strength is but it has to be considerable to politically neutralize the 75,000 man Lebanese Army.

Even if HB fighters did flock South it's not apparent from what I've seen that the IDF has the forces in place to put overwhelming firepower everywhere on the battlespace.

I am very confused why Israel's political leadership would keep even a single reservist uncommitted while rockets continue to rain down on population centers. So far as I'm concerned this is an unforgiveable abrogation of responsibility.

7/27/2006 06:59:00 AM  
Blogger Db2m said...

ADE, 2164,

We are all Belmonters now. "Come on everyone, let's cooperate." - Sesame Street

7/27/2006 07:04:00 AM  
Blogger said...

This is all very interesting, but aren't insurgencies well known for quickly replacing their foot soldiers from the mass of disaffected people created every time a conventional response fails to have the desired effect.

Israel has been here before. Sometimes more indiscriminately, sometimes less, sometimes with an admixture of collective punishment, and sometimes with ground trips (others without).

Nothing seems to work. And why? Because Israel has a major strategic problem; it's very existence is a threat to the Arab world's nationalist goals. And a retreat by Hezbollah would have been an unacceptable act of additional emasculation. Yet the will to harsass, expel, or otherwise harm Israel will remain because its very existence is an insult to the Arab nationalism which took root at the same time Israel was founded.

Israel's real center of gravity should be the imagination and beliefs of the Arab World. It would do better not to overly burden the Lebanese, who might otherwise turn upon Hezbollah in a more surgical operation. But as it stands Hezbollah will recover and the Lebanese people will become united against Israel.

That allsaid the best thing for the US to do is nothing right now until some realities change on the ground.

7/27/2006 07:07:00 AM  
Blogger dirty dingus said...

I agree with your main thesis. The problem for Hezb is that they have to fight. If not their entire raison d'etre is exposed as a sham because they claim to be the resistance to Zionist oppression. This is a problem because they have to fight and not lose embarrassingly. Hence they can't do the cannon fodder trick but actually have to use their best cadre. They also seem to have invested a huge amount of resources in S Lebanon and they can't be seen to retresat from them because that would not go over well amongst their supporters. Hence they are forced to fight from fixed bases close to the Israeli border.

This is fine if Israel is only allowed a week or two of action but it is pretty clear that Israel is calling the bluff of the "jaw jaw" international community and makigti clear that the int'l community can either fight Hesbollah to implement UN res 1559 etc. or they can get out of the way. Hence Israel is going to have months to clean out Hezbollah because no one actually wants to make the necessary invetsment in troops ec. to stop them.

I also agree the obvious next step has to be the cleaning out of the Bekaa Valley (ocne the border bits are clear). I would think that the obvious thing to do would be to send a large unit donw to the far end of the valley where it could interdict anything moving that looke ditneresting as and when the Hesbollah redoubts in S Lebanon start collpasing (and/or when they start screaming for resupply).

7/27/2006 07:10:00 AM  
Blogger Jamie Irons said...

2164th said:

Speak for yourself. I am not an Israeli. I am not an Iraqi. I am not a Mexican. I am an American by choice. Do not have the audacity to speak for the other three hundred million Americans...

Of course, you make a good point, and there is every possible shade of opinion on this war among us 300 million plus Americans.

But I do note that the four groups you cite (Americans, Israelis, Mexicans, and Iraqis -- at least those Iraqis who support their emerging (?) democracy) all do have at least one thing in common:

The Hezbullards would gladly kill us all.

Jamie Irons

7/27/2006 07:15:00 AM  
Blogger PeterBoston said...


The best thing you could do is go get your hair and nails done (again) and don't worry yourself about such heavy things.

Israel with a fraction of the population of it's Arab neighbors has an economy several times larger. It's citizens enjoy a cosmopolitan lifestyle. It's schools produce Nobel scientists and they grow melons the size of basketballs. Something is working.

If the Arabs have self-esteem problems why don't you take a few with you to the coiffures?

7/27/2006 07:18:00 AM  
Blogger Dan said...

2164th, you sure are a petulant, ignorant fuck.

7/27/2006 07:19:00 AM  
Blogger desert rat said...

Ralph Peters has another insightful piece, he is speaking of Iraq and the ever greater challenges there, His analysis is "right on" for the Israeli situation, as well.

"... Political violence with a religious undertone is becoming outright religious violence. The difference is crucial. The earlier fighting was over who should govern. Increasingly, it's about who should define Allah's will on earth. Nothing could be more ominous.

Political struggles may be resolved through compromise. Historically, only immense bloodletting and the exhaustion of one side or both leads to even a bitter, temporary peace in religious conflicts.

Leaders may bargain over who runs the ministry of health, but they won't horse-trade over conflicting visions of the divine. When men believe they hear a command from their god, they go deaf to other voices.

Instead of working aggressively toward a solution, key elements within the Iraqi government have become part of the problem. Responsible for the police and public order, the Interior Ministry has failed utterly. Instead of behaving impartially, Shia-dominated police units provide death squads to retaliate against Sunni insurgents. As a result, more Sunnis back the insurgents in self-defense. More Shias die. More Sunnis die. The downward spiral accelerates.

This is bad news for our troops in Iraq. For the first time, we may face a problem we have no hope of fixing. We can defeat the terrorists. We can defeat a political insurgency. But when our forces find themselves caught between two religious factions, the only hope is to pick a side and stick to it, despite the atrocities it inevitably will commit.

We're not ready for that, psychologically or morally. Yet. We'll try to be honest brokers. But men on a violent mission from God have no respect for mediators. ..."

7/27/2006 07:34:00 AM  
Blogger blogonaut said...

Wretchard, this seems a very perspicacious analysis. If true, the next question is how do the Iranians react? They have a lot on the line if their proxy Hez goes down and they do nothing but continue to bluster. Should we look for them to "enlarge the problem" by inciting some new crisis to take the pressure off Hez.

7/27/2006 07:36:00 AM  
Blogger desert rat said...

Ralph Peters and "Back to Baghdad"

7/27/2006 07:39:00 AM  
Blogger Teresita said...

douq quoth Dick Morris,

When the United States asks Israel to stop fighting, it is like a boxer’s manager throwing in the towel. The bottom line is that true friends of Israel cannot afford to let the Democrats take power in Washington.

True friends of Israel? Would that include, at the very least, American Jews? A Solomon Group analysis took a new look at polling data and concluded that 77% of Jewish Americans voted for Democratic Presidential nominee John Kerry, an increase from previous results. Not only did Senator Kerry receive most of the Jewish vote, but a large majority of Jews, up to 74%, continue to identify as Democrats.

There are some Americans who see Israel's story as being almost a recapitulation of American history. A story of diverse immigrants who came together in a new place to build a great nation from nothing but sand, a trickle of water, and a few scraggly olive trees. Those Americans (who include me) want to see the Zionist experiment succeed as another model for the rest of the world, but we are also troubled by their demographics relative to the Arabs who live in Israel (with the potential of becoming an Apartheid state by 2050), their more centrally-planned economic model, and their dependence on billions of dollars in US welfare.

Right now about the only true friends of Israel outside of the usual neocon susptects are those American Protestant Christians who believe the bible is completely inerrant and want to be on the winning side of future history as the book of Revelation lays it out. But this is kind of insincere if you think about it; sort of the mirror image of Iran exporting rockets to their Hezbo friends not because Iran really supports their cause for resistance against the Zionist Entity, but because stirring the Shi'ite pot will hasten the coming of the 12th Iman.

7/27/2006 07:48:00 AM  
Blogger Db2m said...

"The desert shall blossom as a rose."

Secularists notwithstanding, 1948 was not "an accident of history."

I'm rootin' for the good guys, the ones who are supposed to be there, and are there, by the grace of God, and who also are our allies.

7/27/2006 07:49:00 AM  
Blogger Jamie Irons said...

DR (7:34 AM),

I've always admired Ralph Peters. In my view, his "Seven Ways to Spot the Losers" essay in Parameters is indispensable.

But the present analysis:

...For the first time, we may face a problem we have no hope of fixing. We can defeat the terrorists. We can defeat a political insurgency. But when our forces find themselves caught between two religious factions, the only hope is to pick a side and stick to it, despite the atrocities it inevitably will commit...

turns on the conflict in Iraq actually having simplified itself in the way he describes. Of course it is possible it has. But all along, since March 2003, the "insurgency" (or whatever it is) has been a complex of tribal, religious, political, criminal, foreign-al-Qaeda-related, sectarian, and G_d knows what else elements, mixed at different times in various proportions. One would be justified (as you are) in regarding the entire enterprise as hopeless.

But is it?

(Ask me tomorrow and I'll answer differently than I do today!)


Jamie Irons

7/27/2006 07:50:00 AM  
Blogger RattlerGator said...

desert rat, one can't help but wonder where has Ralph Peters been and what was he thinking when he was there? I mean, who didn't know this bridge had to be crossed? That's why we went in in the first damn place. That's why the death cult can't be allowed to prevail.

Who doesn't know this?

And Wretchard, that's quite a choice for the title of your thread. It brings to mind a certain scene from the movie, doesn't it? In the scene I'm thinking about, the nation of Israel is being played by Marsellus and America is being played by Butch. And Hezbollah, you ask? Well, Hezbollah (of course) is being played by good ole Zed. Here 'tis:

Marsellus, looking down at his whimpering rapist, EJECTS the used shotgun shell.

Butch lowers the sword and hangs back. Not a word, until:


You okay?


Naw man. I'm pretty fuckin' far from okay!

(Long pause.)


What now?


What now? Well let me tell you what now. I'm gonna call a couple pipe-hittin' niggers, who'll go to work on homes here with a pair of pliers and a blow torch.

(to Zed)

Hear me talkin' hillbilly boy?! I ain't through with you by a damn sight. I'm gonna git Medieval on your ass.

Getting medieval on their ass. That one line from the movie has instant recognition all over the globe, doesn't it?

7/27/2006 07:56:00 AM  
Blogger Jamie Irons said...


For both of us to put in our pipes and smoke, the the latest Iraq Index, from All Things Conservative (via Instapundit)...

Jamie Irons

7/27/2006 07:58:00 AM  
Blogger Deuce ☂ said...

Something I said upset you Dan?

7/27/2006 08:11:00 AM  
Blogger desert rat said...

Not much "good" news in that report. The "best" news being that attacks on the oil industry infrastructure is down.

The US casulties are down, but the overall levels of violence, up.
The US troops hunkered down behind their "blast barriers", watching as Iraq cascades to anarchy.

Hopefully by increasing US troop levels in Baghdad it will stem the violence against the Iraqi civilians, before Mr Maliki's Government is made irrelevant in Iraq.

As the Israeli mimic US strategy, in the Terror Wars, the cries from some of our Clubbers rise in tenor, with alarm. Those that advised patience and faith, now are lacking both, as their Country of loyalty is percieved to be on the wrong course.

Perhaps the Israeli Government is attempting a major misinformation campaign. Perhaps they are about to drive into the Hezbolland heartland, into the Bekaa. Perhaps not, the Israeli Government could well be speaking the truth.

7/27/2006 08:20:00 AM  
Blogger Eddie Willers said...

Wretchard said- “The Hezbollah are doing the single most stupid thing imaginable for a guerilla organization. They are fighting to keep territory.”

While we are speculating is it possible to speaculate the US and Isreal set hez up to stand and fight to keep territory? The MSM was all a buzz about the US giving the IDF 1 week to do as much damage as possible to Hez before pulling the plug on them via diplomasly. If Hez belived this to be true they would calculate holding ground until the US State Department came to the rescue would show them as equals to the mighty IDF. Now with no cease fire to be had if they retreat after attempting to fight face to face they will appear defeated.

Hez will bloody the IDF and try spin the battles in their favor but at the end of the day Hez is out gunned and taking a massive attack on their home turf. Each day the fight continues the odds of Hez reciving a devastating blow increase. Can Israeli public opinion withstand the nightly news?

7/27/2006 08:20:00 AM  
Blogger A Jacksonian said...

From the actual IDF reports and the analysis of counterterrorism blog, what I am seeing is that the shift is one of performance and capabilities equal that to a trained military operation. Thusly, Hezbollah becomes the Iranian Foreign Legion which gets guidance, although not operational control from, Tehran. The reason for this change is quite apparent once one looks at the actual operational capabilities of the interior military organizations of Iran. They have not had large amounts of funds spent upon them, and the only real funding has been towards long range delivery and more potent weapons... but those two do not account for all of the funds available for military use. Now we have the answer with a professionally trained and operatiional Foreign Legion to carry out the wishes of Iran.

Simply put, for Iran to be an effective belligerent and back up its threats it needs an external basing operation for its capabilities that is both of high capability and has long range threat ability. Lebanon is that place. What went under the radar screens of the world's Intelligence services, the MSM, and everyone else, was the serious upgrading of Hezbollah from terrorist cells to military squads, as pointed out by Bill Roggio. This is a long-term and fundamental change in operational capability which is being married up to long range artillery rocketry. Iran did not want that discovered, and is racing to get nuclear capability, or at least large area kill/disabling of infrastructure capability to arm longer range missiles with. Based out of Iran and Lebanon, IRBM's would have interdiction and threat ability over the entire Eastern Med from Lebanon, including South Eastern Europe. Add that to coverage from Iran and most of the Arab nations would fall under that threat umbrella.

Unfortunately for Iran, the US set all of the faultines of the Middle East in play, first at the exterior in Afghanistan to stop the al Qaeda training and proliferation zone, and then in Iraq, to end the State sponsorship and training of terrorists of all stripes. The Cold War stasis is officially over, now, and these faultlines are re-adjusting all of the religious, ethnic, cultural, tribal, economic, educational and even ancient Great Civilization outlooks across that region. It is *not* Shia vs Sunni... it *is* Persians allying with Alawite to threaten the rest of Babylon and Egypt and the Arab peoples. Plus a whole lot of interplay that is less easy to define, but just as important. By hoping for the old stasis to still be there, Hezbollah could distract *everyone* with a simple kidnapping and killing scenario and put Iran's activities both at home and in Lebanon 'out of sight, out of mind'.

That didn't work. And the shape of the hegemonic intentions of Iran are coming to the forefront. Pure and idle speculation of course. But it explains much and by looking at what has been going on and piecing it together. Iran is not playing in the 'little leagues', it wants the whole of the Middle East... but misjudged the area badly and now the sands shift to expose their handiwork.

7/27/2006 08:24:00 AM  
Blogger enscout said...

"His analysis is 'right on' for the Israeli situation, as well."

I disagree: While the Muz fight about who does allah's will, israelis fight for the existence of their families.

7/27/2006 08:31:00 AM  
Blogger buddy larsen said...

Teresita, I'm from the Bible-Belt, and I must say your otherwise great analysis is a little on the cynical side as regards rural red-state Christian support for Israel. It's far more an identifying with another committed "Godly" people, and their courage, and the sacrifices they make for faith and loyalty, and the danger they endure.

The David & Goliath thing, if you will.

Shrewd old farmers--who have to be pretty good judges of nature or they wouldn't be around--know what the line-up looks like, what sort of people are on one side, what sort are on the other.

IOW, unless you are in amongst them, it may be tempting to see the red-state masses as sort of religious ideologues, supporting Israel because of what the Good Book says.

In my experience, a born Alabamian, grown up in Louisiana, and a Texan all my adult life--and always associating with country folk--it ain't the Good Book at all. It's the secular history of a pioneer people who are up against a huge war party of hostiles, and who just hang in there, fighting for what's right, no matter what.

7/27/2006 08:37:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I can't imagine anything coming out of the Israeli government as being "anything but" disinformation.

Disinformation is the "Only" way to accomplish any type of Surprise. I agree with whoever posted it that all of the talk about, "one week" might have frozen the Hez in place. I doubt that it was an intentional ploy. It's more likely that it was pure serendipity.

Israel made a "Huge" Strategic mistake a long time ago when they negotiated the first "Prisoner Swap." Until the leadership has the Stones to tell their citizens, "We're sorry, but we can't negotiate for a return of the Cpl., because it will sow the seeds of other Cpl.s being abducted in the future," this scenario will play out "Over, and Over," forever.

7/27/2006 08:51:00 AM  
Blogger desert rat said...

that may be an accurate assessment, but while watching FOX and surfing the blogs I do not see many Muslim Arabs in the IDF. While there are many photos of the IDF members praying, they appeared, to a man, Jewish.
It may just be the spin of FOX and the MSM and the bloggers that are not allowing US to see the 20% of Israel that is Arab.
Are those Arabs represented in the IDF? If not, then it is a Sectarian rift 'tween the two sides

7/27/2006 08:51:00 AM  
Blogger Ash said...

a jacksonian wrote:

"Iran is not playing in the 'little leagues', it wants the whole of the Middle East... but misjudged the area badly and now the sands shift to expose their handiwork."

You've present little evidence to suggest that this is the case. Equally or more likely if you simply sub in US for Iran you will get a statement the more accurately reflects reality. The problems in Iraq suggests US misunderstanding far more then Iran's misunderstanding of the region which makes sense given Iran location and long history in the region. Here is your amended statement:

"The US is not playing in the 'little leagues', it wants the whole of the Middle East... but misjudged the area badly and now the sands shift to expose their handiwork."

Buddy wrote:

"It's the secular history of a pioneer people who are up against a huge war party of hostiles, and who just hang in there, fighting for what's right, no matter what."

The irony in your citing US history of settlement is quite striking. The white mans conquest of the western US had little to do with "pioneers fighting for what's right" but rather with genocidal replacement of indigenous people by white European settlers and the addition of territory through military conquest in the Mexican American war.

7/27/2006 08:54:00 AM  
Blogger buddy larsen said...

rat, the two kidnapped IDF soldiers at the mediatric center of this war, are both Muslims. Druse, like Walid Jumblatt.

7/27/2006 08:56:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Rat, you're right; there does seem to be a Very Large segment of the Israeli Arab population (Maybe/Probably the Majority) adamently support the Hez.

7/27/2006 08:58:00 AM  
Blogger luc said...

I like your speculation because it makes a lot of logical sense to me and it would be silly to think that Israel does not operate according to a "well thought out plan".
But then I wake up and feel somewhat uneasy thinking of what I believed on 9/10. At that time I would have bet everything that what happened on 9/11 was not a possibility. When I consider the position of nearly a majority of Americans with respect to the WOT and everything it entails, my confidence in the belief that Israel operates according to a well established plan is suddenly not that strong. Is only the fact that "hope spring eternal" that I still like your SPECULATION ? ;)

7/27/2006 09:01:00 AM  
Blogger Mike said...

I spout off about this all the time, but this is my first blog comment.

First thing, Wretchard, thank you for the incredibly insightful analysis. There are seemingly fewer and fewer clear-headed thinkers these days and you've managed to create a community of quite a few here at The Belmont Club.

Now on to my comments :).

It seems we've come to a crossroads in the last few weeks in relation to our dealings with Islam. I think we can summarize our options in the following manner:

1. Abject surrender/conversion.

2. Appease/placate/submit to radical Islam in the hopes that they change their minds about forced conversions or killing us.

3. Ignore the fact that radical Islam wants to forcibly convert or kill us. If they strike us, strike back, but not too forcefully since we just want them to go away.

4. Attempt to co-opt and empower moderate Muslims in the hope that they can convince the radicals not to forcibly convert or kill us.

5. Place a big enough hurting on the radical Muslims that they voluntarily give up on the idea that they can forcibly convert or kill us.

I've been telling everyone I know that option 5 is our only way to ensure success because option 1 certainly won't be popular, and options 2-4 are just wishful thinking. Unfortunately, the only person with an opinion that truly matters is President Bush and he has selected option 4 as our Middle East policy.

I've supported this policy for the same reason I supported Israel's attempt to disengage in Lebanon, Gaza, and the West Bank. Namely, option 5 is so horrible for most people that we have to exhaust our other options before we can bring ourselves to face the truth. Our enemies will force us into option 5 eventually, but this entails the West killing on a scale not seen since WW2. I shudder at the possibility myself, but I've resigned myself to face this eventuality.

Now that we had a mix of options 2/3 under Carter, Reagan, Bush 1 and Clinton, and option 4 under Bush II, I think a segment of our population is finally coming face to face with reality.

Israel is going through the same process in response to the Hamas and Hezbollah kidnappings. The question is have enough people here, there, and in EUrope come around to the point that we can finally do what we need to do?

I don't think we're at that point yet and it saddens me. The sooner we clean up this mess, the less that will have to die on our side and theirs in the end.

7/27/2006 09:01:00 AM  
Blogger buddy larsen said...

No soap, Ash. The American Indians were fighting to hold onto their ancestral lands. The Jews were tossed off their ancestral lands and are merely trying to go home again. You have it exactly backwards, as usual. The ME analogy would make the Israelis the Indians and the Arabs the white men.

7/27/2006 09:04:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Cherokee side of me is damned glad the Dutch/English/Irish/Jewish/Whatever side of me won out; otherwise I'd be speaking "Spanish," and they didn't do too well with Mexico.

7/27/2006 09:05:00 AM  
Blogger desert rat said...

The highly secretive sect, which broke from Islam centuries ago, draws on a variety of traditions for its liturgy, including a belief in reincarnation and a six-volume Book of Wisdom. As a people with strong ties to land they have farmed for generations, the Druze say they take it as an article of faith, as well as a mechanism of survival, to support the country where that land happens to be. But in Israel, whose borders have been revised and reshaped by armed conflict throughout its history, their sense of identity can be even more complicated.

Druze from the Upper Galilee region of the country, who have lived in the Jewish state since its founding in 1948, serve in its military -- unlike Israeli Arabs -- and proudly identify themselves as Israeli. In interviews they seem largely to support the operation being waged in southern Lebanon.

The Druze are not mainline Muslims but an apostate sect, nor are they Arabs, buddy.
The are nonJewish Israelis.

The Islamic Arab Israeli so not serve, are not drafted, according to

It is a Sectarian War.

7/27/2006 09:11:00 AM  
Blogger PeterBoston said...

Iraq has been a strategic success for the USA since the day the 3ID made it's Thunder Run through downtown Baghdad. What's happening in Baghdad isn't pretty but it's strategically insignificant. Eventually the sectarian bloodletting will run its course and I would give long odds that the national government that emerges will be favorable to US interests, or we will rinse and repeat. We can moan and groan and whine about the violence but the fact is - in the long run it doesn't matter.

On the broader scale the Iraqi oil fields are not pumping money into Baathist or Iranian coffers, the Teheran-Tyre highway is closed, the USA has a huge, unsinkable aircraft carrier that puts almost all of Syria and Mullahville in tactical range, and the 'Stans ringing the Russian underbelly are a daytrip.

Despite Iranian dreams to the contrary the Chinese Silkworms cannot reach US supply ships unloading in Turkey. The Iranian coastline may be long and well-defended but the chances of it becoming a graveyard for the US Fleet is delusional. When the Fleet does arrive the sailors will be wearing dress whites with freshly printed copies of Arabian Nights under their arms.

7/27/2006 09:14:00 AM  
Blogger buddy larsen said...

rufus, I sympathize with the Amerindians, but trying to hang onto a Hemisphere with a near-zero population density made for a foregone conclusion. Especially given the 16th-19th century zeitgeist. Ash wants to dwell on the sin of human nature, forever into the future. Ash is a religious fanatic.

7/27/2006 09:17:00 AM  
Blogger K. Pablo said...

“The Hezbollah are doing the single most stupid thing imaginable for a guerilla organization. They are fighting to keep territory.”

It is true that the geographic seat of Hezbollah political power in the Lebanese parliament roughly corresponds to the territory they are now fighting to "keep". Their power had derived from (a partial list) 1.)the fact they did not disarm in compliance with UNR 1559, 2.)they were seen as defeating the IDF and causing the 2000 pullout, 3.)their social programs, 4.)their confessional alignment corresponded with the geographic distribution of shiites in Leb, and 5.)they were willing to pursue gangster tactics and make alliances (e.g. with Michael Aoun) to maintain their power in the center.

Nasrallah is likely to have realized his prospects for a rise to legitimate power within the context of the nascent Lebanese democracy were limited by long-standing factionalism. I think therefore, he long ago made the transition from thinking of himself and Hezbollah as a guerilla army biding its time until taking a shot at the center. Rather, I'm inclined to agree with A Jacksonian that he sees Hezbollah as Ahmadinejad's bitch, less like guerillas and more like a garrison force for Iranian installations.

Therefore, from the point of view of Hezbollah it can be quite useful to draw the IDF into a war of attrition while scoring propaganda points in the non-Anglosphere world. They might in the near-term sacrifice some power, or even themselves. But why should we assume that martyrdom is the domain of individual acts and cannot be a tactic of entire institutions? Or nations? Or civilizations?

7/27/2006 09:21:00 AM  
Blogger buddy larsen said...

rat--good info on the Druse.

7/27/2006 09:23:00 AM  
Blogger Deuce ☂ said...

Ever since human beings wandered out of the Great Rift Valley, the process has been the same. One tribe settles the land, another runs them off or dominates them or dies trying. Just ask the Kosovars about what their ancient claims are worth as judged by the law of the land. Israel has legitimate claims because they are there and are capable of defending the claim. Moses has nothing to do with it. The argument is pointless.

7/27/2006 09:23:00 AM  
Blogger Teresita said...

Buddy Larsen said...

IOW, unless you are in amongst them, it may be tempting to see the red-state masses as sort of religious ideologues, supporting Israel because of what the Good Book says.

I spend a lot of time in a popular internet chatroom where all the different faiths (or persons lacking faith) come together and mix it up in a free-for-all, where the only rule is no profanity, enforced by an automatic script. There is an unusual disconnect between the lip-service support the Christian "ideologues" give to the state of Israel and their identification as fellow travellers in faith with the actual Jews who frequent the chatroom (and I would say that disconnect works the other way as well). The Jewish interpretation of the Suffering Servant passages in Isaiah 53, for instance, sees it as imagery representing the people of Israel itself, not of a messiah who dies and is revived. With both sides ever slashing at the dogmatic underpinnings of each other's faith, it is difficult to see the basis for any alliance between them without thinking of ulterior motives.

In my experience, a born Alabamian, grown up in Louisiana, and a Texan all my adult life

As a Navy brat I lived for several years in Pensacola Florida, which we called, affectionately, Baja Alabama. It was just over the bayou from Bama. The beaches around Mobile are awesome, there's fields of cotton and a big rocket along the freeway and even the hint of actual uplands in Birmingham.

--and always associating with country folk--it ain't the Good Book at all. It's the secular history of a pioneer people who are up against a huge war party of hostiles, and who just hang in there, fighting for what's right, no matter what.

So it's a classic John Ford western in slow mo, the White Hats vs. the Blue Helmets and the Kuffiyeh heads.

7/27/2006 09:25:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


I was trying to be too cute. I'm Damned Glad the Europeans came along. Them TeePee's got mighty cold in the wintertime, not to mention the dearth of "Domino's."

7/27/2006 09:25:00 AM  
Blogger allen said...

teresita; 7:48 PM

Jews can appear hopeless savant-idiots vis-à-vis support for Democrats – somewhat reminiscent of Black political amnesia pre-1960.

All Belmonteers:

Where did the story of a 3 division Israeli reserve call-up come from? I haven’t found a number, myself. What is Yoni saying, having some computer problems, I ask.

7/27/2006 09:26:00 AM  
Blogger jane said...

Hugh Fitzgerald has a piece up that could add to the imagination.

7/27/2006 09:26:00 AM  
Blogger Ash said...

buddy wrote:

"Ash wants to dwell on the sin of human nature, forever into the future. Ash is a religious fanatic."

Quite the opposite actually. I am objecting to your falsification of American history as a glorius piece of work where

"It's the secular history of a pioneer people who are up against a huge war party of hostiles, and who just hang in there, fighting for what's right, no matter what."

That is simply a load of BS and many, many use it to justify American intervention in the middle east, just as you did. It gives the appearance that your historical understanding is derived from old Hollywood westerns.

7/27/2006 09:32:00 AM  
Blogger bobalharb said...

It's a complex story but the biggest killer of Indians was disease.

7/27/2006 09:35:00 AM  
Blogger buddy larsen said...

teresita, the reason you can use a John Ford illo and be certain you'll be understood, is because it calls up from the deep parts of identity-formation. Not as superficial as it appears at first glance.

Like Bob Dylan said, I'll let ya be in my dream if I can be in yours.

7/27/2006 09:36:00 AM  
Blogger DanMyers said...


You missed the next paragraph. I think it is appropriate.

"However, the 20,000 or so Druze in the Golan Heights -- which was seized by Israel from Syria in 1967 and subsequently annexed but is still considered occupied territory by much of the outside world -- refuse to hold Israeli passports and say that the vast majority of their community backs Hezbollah."

Ash, once again... An ad hominem to "chide the children"

7/27/2006 09:40:00 AM  
Blogger buddy larsen said...

Ash, read my post--pioneers and war parties are a world-wide, world-historical fact. You are the one putting it in Hollywood. As usual, Ash-backwards.

7/27/2006 09:41:00 AM  
Blogger Deuce ☂ said...

Reported on MYWAY. This is clearly so obvious a denial it must be true. Maybe not.

Jul 27, 8:22 AM (ET)


JERUSALEM (AP) - Top Israeli Cabinet ministers on Thursday decided not to expand the country's Lebanon offensive, Israel Radio reported. But they approved calling up three additional divisions of reserve soldiers.
During a meeting of the security Cabinet, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said the goals of Israel's 17-day offensive are being met.

7/27/2006 09:45:00 AM  
Blogger Cogitatus Incognito said...

Wretchard, I agree. I don't want to say it too loudly, but I think the IDF has a well-thought-out strategy of using the press to accomplish their military goals. Witness Shep Smith on Fox going on and on how the Israeli forces are surprised how tough the Hezzies are. I doubt these are random remarks by IDF personnel. Iran/Syria/Hezballah have been salivating with the desire to 'wipe out' Israel. What better way to suck them into a fight they can't win than to feign weakness.

7/27/2006 09:49:00 AM  
Blogger buddy larsen said...

Maybe in wartime it helps to keep it simple, as a way out of analysis-paralysis.

(scene) Two Frenchmen are arguing politics over coffee in a Parisian sidewalk cafe. Behind them The French army rushes down the Champs Elysee, then later the German Army marches up the Champs Elysee, then later back down again, followed by a GI Joe with a comic book rolled up in his back pocket, who interrupts their conversation with, "Hey, Pierre, Jacques, you guys want some chewin' gum?"

7/27/2006 09:57:00 AM  
Blogger Thomas_Bowdler said...

Speculative certainly, also full of hope. The problem faced by Israel is that a military victory over Hezbollah forces in Lebanon does not translate into political victory. The President of Spain wears a kaffiyeh (can anyone say "dhimmitude"?) and even leaders reluctantly pressed into admitting Hezbollah started this fight immediately shift into crticism of Israel's 'over reaction'. For my part, I am more interested in what is comming August 22 because (to paraphrase Kent Brockman) "I for one welcome our new overlord, the returned 12th Imam".

7/27/2006 10:05:00 AM  
Blogger Ilia Capitolina said...

Christians and Druse, which had members of their community maimed and killed as a result of these Hizbollah attacks, are refusing to call these victims Martyrs, even as Hizbollah has sent them condolences. Muslims in Nazareth, Acco, and elsewhere in Israel are a different story. Fault lines are being exposed, Jacksonian is quite right. And these fault lines, per their real life geographical analogues, have never really changed.

7/27/2006 10:07:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Cap'n says Nasrallah is in Damascus. for a good old-fashioned butt-chewing.

You have to scroll down one.

7/27/2006 10:09:00 AM  
Blogger Jim Fen said...

When the data equally supports two or more conclusions, the principle of least astonishment says the least astonishing conclusion is the one most likely to be correct. It may be the events of the last two weeks don't make sense because they are senseless. To me, the least astonishing conclusion is that Israel and the Hez simply blundered and are now muddling through.

An interesting aside. Wikipedia does not have an entry for the principle of least astonishment as used by geologists. How may other knowledge holes does the Wikipedia contain?

7/27/2006 10:11:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jim, it seems the most likely conclusion to me.

7/27/2006 10:21:00 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

I don't know what their troop strength is but it has to be considerable to politically neutralize the 75,000 man Lebanese Army.

Actually, it doesn't. The Lebanese Army is as factionalized as the Lebanese public, which is to say 'almost totally.' They don't really have a sense of national identity/pride. Teresita may be from Florida and I may be from California, Buddy Larson may be Christian (just guessing) and I may be Wiccan, but we all consider ourselves Americans. We are the United States of America, and when our military fights it sees itself as fighting for us all. Lebanon isn't united, and neither is its military. Part of their Army actively sympathizes with Hezballah and another part wouldn't see 'what's in it for me.' When you add in the fact that past sectarian conflict has made them extremely gunshy of any prospect of civil war, it's really not that difficult for a loud, aggressive faction to cow the rest politically.

This isn't to say Hezballah isn't a dangerously competent fighting force. I've been arguing that for quite some time on other blogs, where the trend is to dismiss them as just another bunch of rag-tag Hamasniks, and we're seeing it in play now. But they're not the Gods of War of Fisk's wet dreams, either.

Getting back to Wretchard's speculation, I'm inclined to agree. Israel's strategy has had a strong whiff of rope-a-dope to it. And the MSM has played right into it with their cries of 'calamity! catastrophe!' at a dozen IDF casualties (I kept waiting for 'quagmire!' but I guess they've been too badly burned on that one). I hadn't thought of the 'ceasefire aaaaaany day now' element, but it makes sense.

7/27/2006 10:25:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If you really want to go Nuts, figure out how This fits into the equation.

7/27/2006 10:29:00 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Israeli intelligence confirms this and their forces enter Beruit quickly enough to cut the Iranian embassy escape tunnels and lay siege.

Wouldn't happen. Not the 'laying siege' part, at any event. They might do a fast-and-brutal in-and-out retrieval if they were confident they could pull it off. And I would looooove to see it happen. But parking troops in the middle of one country's capital to lay siege to the embassy of another? Not a chance.

7/27/2006 10:34:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bill Roggio "revisits" the capabilities of Hezbollah. He points out that these are not cells, these are Combat Units.

And, they're Damned good ones. (my take.)

7/27/2006 10:40:00 AM  
Blogger Habu_3 said...


A good piece.

Six weeks into WWII Winston Churchill gave one of his many radio addresses to the population.
Most of the address was about what was going on in the war. Further Winston answered some of his rhetorical questions, one of which was. "You ask what is our objective?" his answer "To win"

He went on to say that he would rather have London in ashes than to declare, as the French had done, that London was an open city, there for Nazi occupation.
This cannot be done by creating no fire zones or declaring a swath of land "no man's land"
It is apparent to anyone who has ever studied war that for Israel to survive going forward that THIS was must be a war of CONQUEST. Too many Islamic countires and Islamic terrorist entities will have the nuclear means to wipe Israel off the map with a very short time.
It is imperative at this moment in history that Syria and Iran, at minimum, will have to be obliterated. There is more than enough provocation for this, and if not done Israel will not be able to exist. She may nuke in return for a nuke attack but she will be gone and the world will be faced with over a billion Quran driven fanatics who will then turn to "old Europe" as thier new target.
Their is no other resolution.
Our policy should be TO WIN, not to weasal out yet another ephemeral diplomatic patch.
TO takes great effort,courage, and resolve.
I do not personally believe the US has enough of the latter.

7/27/2006 10:51:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Okay, Indisputable FAct: One Hundred and Fifty Rockets Hit Israel, "Yesterday." The same number as the first day of the "War."

At Some Point, the Israeli's have to quit dicking around with Bint Jubail and Maroun ar Ras, and go "After the Rockets."

It they are just stalling around, hoping for a "Cease Fire," and International Troops, they will give Hesbollah a Moral Victory of Historic Proportions. I put it at 50/50.

7/27/2006 11:10:00 AM  
Blogger speaker-to-animals said...

if your specualtion is correct, this is brilliant seat-of-the-pants planning by the Israelis.
or else, when they said they had a 48-72 hour window two weeks ago, that was disinformation, and they had already struck a deal for condi to stall the opposition. ;)

or it could just be games theory in practice.

7/27/2006 11:11:00 AM  
Blogger Captain Jarred Fishman, USAFR said...

Some excellent analysis here. But to correct some mistakes: there have been NINE KIA in two days. Yes, every man lost is a huge tragedy in a country of six million Jews. On the other hand, the IDF composes over 550,000 total personnel. Hizbullah has a few thousand well trained terrorists. If you watch Israeli media, the enemy has been taking many more casualties than the IDF. This is not being reported by Hizbullah for obvious reasons. Israel needs to be given the time to continue to strangle the Iranian puppets. And they need to kill Nasrallah as soon as possible..

7/27/2006 11:12:00 AM  
Blogger buddy larsen said...

That was the "blood, sweat & tears" speech habu quoted. Read it here (the best parts are the last, natch), and pay attention to Churchill's choice for a concluding sentence: "At this time I feel entitled to claim the aid of all, and I say, "come then, let us go forward together with our united strength."

At this time I feel entitled to claim the aid of all. Man, what better could sum up a free people in a just war than a leader who so phrases what the war will require?

7/27/2006 11:28:00 AM  
Blogger Y.H.N. said...

Rat: Humm ... druze are not Islamic? Depending on who you ask, the Alawites who run Syria are not Islamic either. If you ask Al-Q then the Shias are heritics and I'm sure the mad mullas have a few choice words for their Sunni brothers in the "religion of peace." Need we go into Salafi vs. Sufi? So exactly who is Isalmic?

A friend from Saudi once described ME politics to me as "Me aganist my brother, but Me and my brother against my cousin." That is the essence of tribalism.

Tribal groupings within the ME are divisible into mutually antagonistic groups down to individual family units. Arab Nationalism and Islam form a desperate attempt by this culture to trancend the violence through the formation of a super-tribe. Internal violence is focused on an external target. Mohamed himself lead the first wave of conquest to avoid internal battles. The fact that we don't want to take part in this little morality play is irrelevant to the the people of the middle east. It is preferable to fight an external enemy far away and to maintain some semblence of the web of trust we in the west take for granted than to descend into chaos close to home. To make peace with infidels far away is to make war closer to home.

From their prespective that is what this war is about. For them to have jihad proven futlie is for the entire islamic world to come apart in the manner that the european communist world did.


I borrowed the phrase "web of trust" from

7/27/2006 11:31:00 AM  
Blogger Juan Golblado said...

I would like to believe that Israel is faking that it doesn't know how to deal with Hizbullah. Time should tell us shortly.

It is a cheering thought and I can see the logic.

I did at a certain point wonder why Hezbullah were fighting to hold on to territory. It would be great if that were a big mistake on their part.

7/27/2006 11:32:00 AM  
Blogger bobalharb said...

I hit the jackpot at a yardsale last summer. All of Churchill's speechs on the old spin records--never played before. Need to find myself a good record player. The time is right.

7/27/2006 11:37:00 AM  
Blogger Y.H.N. said...

Re Jim:
"How may other knowledge holes does the Wikipedia contain?"

One fewer if you decide to correct this one.

7/27/2006 11:37:00 AM  
Blogger Habu_3 said...

Thank you for the help. I was trying to remember from the deep plaque fill crevices of my mind the exact quotes but I figure since I'm no prose pro if I could just communicate the main idea I'd be do'in good.

7/27/2006 11:39:00 AM  
Blogger xwraith said...

Yeah I read that to. Hezbollah obviously has made the decision to acquire many of the tools of western armed forces. They have also evidently acquired modern infantry tactics and doctrine as well. I'm sure if you connected all the dots the source of this knowledge and equipment would go all the way to Tehran.

The destruction of these forces would be a victory for the IDF, but it will be all for naught if the final objective is not total and absolute victory.

7/27/2006 11:39:00 AM  
Blogger Habu_3 said...

Great find in those Churchill records. I have had a set of his speeches for five or six years and listen to them often.
You'll notice a lisp which he never conquered. But what a man.
A good read is his account of Battle of Omdurman, 1898.

7/27/2006 11:48:00 AM  
Blogger Ilia Capitolina said...

xwraith said: The destruction of these forces would be a victory for the IDF, but it will be all for naught if the final objective is not total and absolute victory.

Victory for the IDF requires an Israeli political victory. The Sunni Arab oil producers have the US and the Europeans by the balls. So for obvious reasons, an Israeli political victory will not be allowed, period. In reality, Israel and the US by extension are doing Saudia\\\'s dirty job. Better Israel run out of bombs, than run out of targets and needlessly expend their soldiers lives.

7/27/2006 12:17:00 PM  
Blogger Habu_3 said...

Jamie Irons,

Possumtater wanted me to send along a big thank you for the book suggestion.

He's been working on a cookbook on "101 Great Party Dishes with Vienna sausage"
I think right now he's working on a creme de menthe frappe Vienna sausage dish ...

7/27/2006 12:20:00 PM  
Blogger Cogitatus Incognito said...

I think Iran's mullahs have given us support for Wretchard's speculation:

Why would they be speculating 'if they [Israeli's] push Hizbullah to the Litani, Haifa might get hit?' if they thought they were beating Israel on the ground?

I'm wondering what desertion rate the vaunted Hezballah storm troopers are experiencing right about now...

7/27/2006 12:32:00 PM  
Blogger buddy larsen said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

7/27/2006 12:35:00 PM  
Blogger desert rat said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

7/27/2006 12:38:00 PM  
Blogger just a marine said...

What a privilege to read well read and history researched articles by those such as wretchard.

To delve into intentions of others as opposed to capabilities is risky to the point of being religious, and he has said something like this in his introduction.

Listen to him on the principle of centers of gravity. Divining the center of gravity can be difficult for most of us, including me. I personally agree with him on his judgment as the enemy’s center of gravity. We may both be wrong compared to others, and most importantly, the Israeli’s.

On his comments, let me add to the discourse the term “campaign plan”. How the Israeli’s are proceeding appears to be one of several “campaign plans” already developed by them. In a nutshell, a campaign plan already has all the what if drills researched and run out ahead of time, ready to be implemented, and then modified on the fly as events fold out. For the historians, a campaign plan is more locally military oriented than a war plan, which includes politics and economics.

I especially enjoyed his guesses about Nasrallah. Ralph Peters has many great thoughts, one which is something like “don’t ascribe from Karachi to Cairo intelligent calculated planning when passionate incompetence will do”. Another thought is that “we may influence Israel, but we do not control Israel; and the same applies as the “Iranians may influence Nasrallah, but they do not control him”.

It sure looks like Nasrallah jumped the gun by starting all this before Iran had a nuke, and time will now play out. If I were either an Iranian theocratic leader or the President of Iran, I would be frustrated by the inability to support Nasrallah 1,000 miles away, and also P.O.d that he had started all this. Now (trying to think Eastern, I may get dragged down into all this mess I cannot control).

In the meantime, the rest of the country of Iran is opposed to me and the theocratic leaders, so I may be distracted just trying to save myself from all this mess.

Last, budgets do count. Money is not exhaustible. Iran may be floating in oil and gas (it is not), but their treasury has limits. Despite all the talk from Tehran about replacing formerly Western supplied funds for Hamas, they have not done so because they can’t, and Hamas knows this. Now I hear other financial and political boasts amplified through the ignorant Western medias. “Where’s the beef?”

A journalist or a media format could make a fortune just doing the reporting today, which will happen eventually. Fox News has made a good start. I still miss the old “BBC World News”, now long defunct and rolled up into BBC, a rabidly anti-American news media (as opposed to just the news media). As an old guy, I am still bitter that young people hired into such as organization as the BBC have abused their hired and inherited privilege to advance their agenda from their experience and recent period.

7/27/2006 01:00:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mohammed, at Iraq the Model puts the war in a broader context.

You have to read to the bottom of the post to see the relevence to Lebanon, but it's a short post.

7/27/2006 01:00:00 PM  
Blogger skipsailing said...

First, there are some common flaws shared by both the Lebanese Army and the hezbullah.

I came across an interesting work by Norvell B. De Atkine, a retired US Army colonel who spend about eight years in the middle east. in his paper he reviews the cultural obstacles that result in poor performance from Arab Armies.

I cannot imagine that these same flaws were overcome by hezbullah.

Here's a sentence that I believe sums up the thesis: "These attributes included over-centralization, discouraging initiative, lack of flexibility, manipulation of information, and the discouragement of leadership at the junior officer level."

If over centralization is a weakness, then attacks on Hezbullah's headquarters simply make sense. If this flaw is coupled with a lack of initiative and failure to share information the hezbullah grunts would be on their own in a hell of a hurry.

the lebanese army is probably not much different from any other Arab army, more of a means for political patronage than a legitimage fighting force.

I recall that management fad book: the seven habits of highly successful people. Well one of these habits was begin with the end in mind. For Isreal, what is ideal status of lebanon when the smoke clears?

I don't believe that Israel has any stomach for another occupation. A functioning, although rudimentary democracy would work just fine.

further if the people of lebanon hate Israel, so what? Absent hezbullah they have no way to effecuate that hatred so they can go back to what ever it was they were doing before hezbullah rocked their world. they hated Israel before all this and they'll hate them afterwards. that's OK good fences will make good neighbors.

7/27/2006 01:44:00 PM  
Blogger allen said...

lieutenant fishman; 11:12 AM

Depending on who is doing the lying, Israel's regular armed force is somewhere in the range of 160,000 – 180,000. Under full mobilization, about 700,000 Israelis would be under arms, or the equivalent of 42,000,000 Americans.

Lately, I have seen a report of a call-up of about 30,000 reservists (3 divisions) – to what end I cannot think.


I am all for killing every bad boy in sight as a matter of principle, but not the killing of every Hezbollah troop in the south or the establishment of a DMZ will prevent the on-going bombardment of Israel. Only a strategic paradigm shift will yield security and that, in my opinion, requires the destruction of both Syria and Hezbollah. Obviously, there is no stomach for this course in either Tel Aviv or DC. Consequently, as sure as G-d made little green apples, there will be a premature end to hostilities and Israel can expect eventually greater payloads at far greater depth.

Thankfully, it is for the children.

7/27/2006 01:48:00 PM  
Blogger Deuce ☂ said...

Deutche Welle News | 27.07.2006 | 20:00

Lebanon: 600 Dead So Far

At least seven Lebanese people, mostly civilians, were killed as Israeli air and artillery strikes continued on Hezbollah targets in Lebanon Thursday. In a press conference, Israel's Defence Minister Amir Peretz announced that Israel's ultimate aim was to create a special security zone to defend Israel's northern border and drive out Hezbollah militants. Israel's Security cabinet approved the calling up of thousands more reserve troops. Hezbollah again launched rocket attacks on northern Israel on Thursday with more than 80 landing across Galallee and the Hula Valley. In the town of Kiryat Shemona, just east of the border with Lebanon, one struck a empty factory, causing extensive damage and setting the building on fire. Lebanon's Health Minister says Israel's bombardment may have killed up to 600 people so far."

Assume that sixty percent are non-combatants, that would be 240 Hezbollah KIA. Assume that is undercounted fifty percent, that would bring the total to 360 Hez KIA. That is less than 30 per day of combat with over 1200 air sorties and limited ground combat. However, assume that for every KIA there are five wounded, that brings total casualties to 2,160 or one third of the original force of Hezbollah starting with 6000. Maintain that action and such a diminished force would be very vulnerable to an agressive ground assault in five to six days, just about the time Israel says it will be near the end.

7/27/2006 02:02:00 PM  
Blogger A Jacksonian said...

ash - I only use those things that Hezbollah has said about 'having missiles that can strike at any part of Israel from Lebanon'. I also add in the fact that these missiles, training and equipment is coming from Iran as is cited in multiple news reports about ongoing military affairs in this conflict, especially the C-802a training flights damaging the Israeli vessel and sinking an unarmed merchantman. That last is a clear and unmistakeable warning by Hezbollah that no one is safe under their weapons. Further I also put in the IDF reports of how the Hezbollah have operated and examin Bill Roggio's look at that and how the type and level of training have changed. Additionally I also look at how Iran has been unable to adequately respond to their own civil unrest without having to resort to the Revolutionary/Special Guards units, which have proven to be good terrorizing forces against civilians. Add those things in with the rhetoric from Iran on wanting a 'united islamic Middle East' and you finally get the idea that by training Hezbollah and investing so much time and money into equipping them with better equipment than their own units, that they are projecting force into Lebanon for a purpose.

The US already *has* this capability on a global scale and could have exercised it on any day since the Soviet Union fell if we really wanted to, so your attempt to sidetrack the argument hold no water.

You can do your own reading, but I do suggest Gateway Pundit for the under reported affairs in Iran, ITM for some of the cross-border viewpoints of what Iran is like, Strategypage, Globalsecurity, and Counterterrorism blog, amongst the few I try to touch upon at least daily. I will *not* take up discussion with posting up a few hundred links... and to ask so without getting oneself informed on the actual situation and vituperating on ideology is disingenuous at best. Trolling at worse.

speaker-to-animals - My bet is on game theory and the traditions of the IDF kicking in. Use past experience, train your people to know they won't have eveything they need and will have to improvise, and then support the troops fully and let them know that being imaginative is something the enemy cannot handle.

Hezbollah is doing the unimaginable for a terrorist organization to take such heavy losses for mere territory. To do so points at something actually there for them to need and fight for. As has been heard from various individuals in Lebanon, Walid Jumblatt the most vociferous, Nasrallah has joined heavily *to* Iran to the point of losing his ability to say and be *believed* that he is working for Lebanon. The Shia/Sunni/Druze and other faultlines of that Nation are now in play, though they have taken time to shift. Iran, to arm Hezbollah so heavily and with so much training would not do so without a cause and reason and expectation that doing so would gain them much in the end. Jumblatt is saying, basically, that Nasrallah is now bought and paid for and expected to deliver. If he was to support Lebanon and did not care about his backers, he would be in Beirut, not Damascus. His paymaster is calling him... and they expect results for their money and investment in Hezbollah. With the various faultlines in motion, Iran and Hezbollah did not adjust its outlook or ideology and is now caught by that. No longer is it Arab/Israeli... it is Persian and Alawite putting forth doctrine of control over Sunni Arabs. And Egypt is staying steadfastly... nowhere... a ship sunk out of hand in disdain for them. One wonders how the faultlines are going to shift there, too...

7/27/2006 02:07:00 PM  
Blogger What is "Occupation" said...

stated: there is no stomach for this course in either Tel Aviv or DC.

The capital of israel is Jerusalem, they live there, they claim it and more importantly they control it.

7/27/2006 02:08:00 PM  
Blogger al said...

“And now there is word that the Israeli cabinet is meeting to decide whether to expand its operation further north. Not a ceasefire but a further advance.”
“agreed to keep to a policy of limited and pinpointed incursions rather than a full-scale ground offensive.” it change your perception of Israelis strategy?


7/27/2006 02:11:00 PM  
Blogger spike said...

I call it rope a dope stratagy. Call up what appears to be a too small a force and the weaker force will stay to fight. It keeps your enemy engaged by thinking he just might have a chance at knocking you out.

7/27/2006 02:11:00 PM  
Blogger Annoy Mouse said...

Funny thing Jim,
Sounds a lot like Occam's Razor.

"The principle is most often expressed as Entia non sunt multiplicanda praeter necessitatem, or "Entities should not be multiplied beyond necessity", but this sentence was written by later authors and is not found in Occam's surviving writings. This also applies to non est ponenda pluritas sine necessitate, which translates literally into English as "pluralities ought not be posited without necessity". It has inspired numerous expressions including "parsimony of postulates", the "principle of simplicity", the "KISS principle" (Keep It Simple, Stupid), and in some medical schools "When you hear hoofbeats, think horses, not zebras".

Other common restatments are:

Entities are not to be multiplied without necessity.

The simplest answer is usually the correct answer.
Or, as Einstein put it "As simple as possible, but no simpler"
" Wiki

7/27/2006 02:21:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

Syria will Emerge Stronger from the Lebanon Debacle
Joshua Landis

a. Historically, only immense bloodletting and the exhaustion of one side or both leads to even a bitter, temporary peace in religious conflicts.

b. Ash is a religious fanatic.

So we gotta get Midevil on our Ash?

7/27/2006 02:39:00 PM  
Blogger allen said...

"what is "occupation"; 2:08 PM

"The capital of israel is Jerusalem, they live there, they claim it and more importantly they control it."

While I take your point, the rest of the world does not. Indeed, the Israeli government does not always appear to either. For international embassies and consulates in Israel see:

7/27/2006 02:43:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

Tehran as Rome has a ready-made
Pope a Dope.

7/27/2006 02:46:00 PM  
Blogger buddy larsen said...

Oh, that darn Arab Street, it just doesn't love us enough. Maybe if we study all the possible ways we have done wrong, and repent, and flagellate ourselves long enough, it will start loving us, like it's supposed to, in the Big Plan, where regardless of what we do or don't do, we always come out just fine in the end.

7/27/2006 02:53:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A ready made "Pope a Dope?" Oh, this is really starting to get ugly. I love it!

7/27/2006 03:03:00 PM  
Blogger buddy larsen said...

Ralph Peters and Faoud Ajami are both dead right about the way internecine religious wars are settled. The West's last big one was the Thirty Years War, which was actually post-medieval, and was cruel and nasty almost beyond modern comprehension. lots of our good ole peacable Euros burning each others children alive, skinning their womwen folk alive, hanging whole villages. Roving militias racing each other to the bottom of depravity, with no law or order anywhere in a war zone without rationality, where Captains and armies switched sides at the sight of a gold coin or a better real estate offer, and turned on allies overnite. Nasty, makes the Jihad look like Sunday school. Only a dozen-plus generations ago.

7/27/2006 03:09:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

Is Burns a self-flagellator?
Dump Condi: Bush allies in revolt over Mideast policy
Says Nicholas Burns is running the show:
From what I've heard he's a State-Dept loser type.

7/27/2006 03:09:00 PM  
Blogger Jim said...

A larger strategy may be seen by taking a lesson from our actions. One aspect of taking both Afghanistan and Iraq in the war on terror is that from the other side, it looks rather amazing and dramatic. We lose two buildings, we take two countries. I do not necessarily see it as directly correlated, but our enemies may. It may be one argument in their minds that keeps us safer. Who knows what the Americans would do if some WMD were used in a subway? Perhaps they would take three more countries.

It is, in a way, a return to placing a geographic cost on a non-geographic combatant.

If Israel is able to isolate and decimate Hezbollah, the potential price of a future act of terror grows rather dramatically. Who knows what they may do next? Perhaps, since land for peace is a failure, they will take the land back.

7/27/2006 03:17:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

I thought this didn't happen:
Father describes unbearable loss
A father's heart was ripped out when he found he lost both his sons to battle. KLBK's Emily Leonard reports (July 27)
CNN Home page Video.
Heartbreaking indeed.

7/27/2006 03:17:00 PM  
Blogger timmiejoebob said...

If you ever hire a carpenter, watch carefully what tools he reaches for. If a level, a square, and a cat's paw aren't among the first, drop him and get another craftsman.

Everything is relative. Everything. Start with a square, level and plumb foundation, build from there and success will follow. If mistakes are made grab the cat's paw and start over. If the foundation isn't level or the corners aren't square, one will never get the kitchen cabinets to hang right.

Everything is relative.

PeterBoston's particularly insightful comment above nails it. The only thing that matters is military effectiveness. Hezbollah could have 100,000 rockets and if they don't serve to support a military objective they are nothing. Hezbollah, like all terrorist organizations, have become enamored of reading press reports of their might. They glory by the success of suicide bombings, car bombings, IEDs, backpack bombs, and blind rockets yet never once have they even slightly degraded the military abilities of their enemies. Might is not measured in fireworks. It is measured in the ability to take and hold strategic objectives and to prevent one's enemy from doing so. Hezbollah can not do the former. They have gained defensive capabilities and the institutional knowledge Wretchard describes. Fortunately for the Israelis, they have invested too much in their rockets and the big media event. They believe that if they can kill a squad of IDF soldiers they are entitled to celebrate a great victory. And they believe they have the ability to meet the IDF. Wonderful for them. Let more of them join the battle. They have not given the IDF a black eye. They have given them a scratch no worse than a briar patch would.

In Bin Jbeil, the Israelis were kind enough to leave a transit route open to the North to permit more of them to come to slaughter in one place. Now the Israeli cabinet plays rope-a-dope while activating three more divisions.

William Gilbert penned what could just as easily be the lament of all the mothers, wives and daughters of terrorists. From the Pirates of Penzance:

"Go ye heroes, go to glory,
"Though you die in combat gory,
"Ye shall live in song and story.
"Go to immortality!
"Go to death, and go to slaughter;
"Die, and every Cornish daughter
"With her tears your grave shall water.
"Go, ye heroes, go and die!"

Everything is relative. Hezbollah is nothing. They’ve no idea how to practice the art or craft of war. Screw the cabinets. Time to hire new craftsmen.

7/27/2006 03:24:00 PM  
Blogger John Aristides said...


As you know, I agree with your speculation.

Here's some of my own (I will be using the Wiki article on the conflict for timeline data):

1. The soldiers were abducted by Hezbollah on July 12. The same day the Israel cabinet called an emergency meeting, where they authorized "severe and harsh" retaliation on Lebanon. At the same time, Olmert called the raid and abductions an "act of war" and promised "very painful and far-reaching consequences." Defense Minister Peretz said that “the State of Israel sees itself free to use all measures that it finds it needs, and the Israeli Forces have been given orders in that direction.” I think it was during this meeting that Israel defined the centers of gravity of which you speak. I also think it was where the Strategic Objective was agreed upon -- i.e. the destruction of Hezbollah (it's interesting to note that, contra press releases, the actual Israeli Cabinet statement today simply reaffirmed the original objectives of the original cabinet meeting on the 12th). Israel's first moves were to separate Hezbollah from Iran and Syria, through bombings of the Beirut airport, the Beirut-Damascus highway, and naval blockades. Foreign Ministry spokesman Regev implicitly acknowledged this by claiming Hezbollah was trying to move the soldiers to Iran. This makes since since the official raison d'etre for Israel's actions were still the return of the missing soldiers, but later action seems to confirm that these military events were tactical first, for the hostages second.

2. The next objective for Israel was to take the battle to the Hezbollah leadership and destroy their infrastructure in South Beirut, as you have noted. "Israeli Army radio reported that Israeli forces are under orders from army Chief of Staff Lt. General Dan Halutz to bomb ten multi-storey buildings in Dahaya (south Beirut) for every Hezbollah rocket fired at the Israeli port of Haifa." That is surely propaganda, because bombing Hezbollah leadership has a value that is quite separate from revenge. It is much more likely that these attacks were meant to neutralize the command and control of Hezbollah forces and erode their ability to observe Israeli actions and coordinate response. Thereafter, Hezbollah forces in the south would most likely be dependent on public sources and direct observation for any news on what Israel is up to. That is speculation, since I am not sure what their capabilities are.

3. I think you hit the third objective right on the mark. Hezbollah's best option is to retreat from forward positions in the face of a massive Israeli invasion and dissolve into the civilian population to conduct a guerilla war. Israel knows this. Hezbollah knows this. Israel knows that Hezbollah knows. Israel also knows that a dispersed Hezbollah would be a very bad outcome, and I'm sure they want to avoid an occupation-cum-insurgency like the Plague. However, I doubt Hezbollah will disperse before an all-out invasion, and therein lies the key.

4. Israel needs to manipulate events and information to keep Hezbollah in place and fighting until Israel is ready to destroy them all at once. Red River suggested an operation comparable to Anaconda, and I would agree. High ground goes first, to install weaponry and spotters, then paratroopers behind the line to close the trap. Once everything is in place, ground forces can start probing for target acquisition. If Hezbollah engages, they die. If they run, they die. If they stay put, they die.

While intelligence is being collected and assets are being placed, the Israelis will need to look weak and ineffective to keep Hezbollah in place. Losing 9 soldiers in a raid, having the Press call it a "catastrophe", calling an emergency cabinet meeting later that day, and then supposedly deciding "not to expand ground operations" has all the hallmarks of psyops to me. Also, I would not be surprised if Israel learned something of Hezbollah's battle plan when they took over that command and control center in Southern Lebanon a few days ago. Perhaps they learned that Hezbollah really is planning to dissolve in the face of a massive Israeli ground attack. Perhaps Israel felt it needed to adjust perception to avoid it.

I start from the premise that Israel is bent on dismantling Hezbollah, to the extent possible, before the situation with Iran comes to a head. If this is truly their Strategic Objective in this conflict, then we must assume, as you have, that Israel is playing to her strengths and trying to avoid all of Hezbollah's.

7/27/2006 03:43:00 PM  
Blogger John Aristides said...

Also, I would note that Israel exercises censorship over news during a time of war. That doesn't mean that what is reported isn't true. It just means that what's reported is allowed to be reported for a reason.

7/27/2006 04:00:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

Report: Nasrallah to meet Assad, Iranian security chief in Syria
By Yoav Stern, Haaretz Correspondent, and Agencies

"Can it be any clearer than this? We are at war with Syria and Iran not just Hizballah. But the so called leaders of Israel refuse to do what must be done and take the fight to the enemies of Israel."

Larry Johnson still on the loose:

I know where you are living.
You forget that I do work for the European Union and friends in Interpol.
I've offered you a mature way to deal with this situation. You're obviously too immature and inexperienced to recognize the offer for what it is. Too bad.
(This type of behavior isn't exactly unknown from Johnson.

He has a habit of emailing critics in a similarly empty and pugnacious manner.)
Things got worse early this morning when Seixon received a phone call from someone who said he had written "naughty things" on his blog.
When asked to identify himself, the caller laughed.
"You're a dead man ," he replied.

7/27/2006 04:02:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

re censorship:
Yoni says actual callup is censored, and reason for it being censored is also secret!

7/27/2006 04:07:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

...numbers of reserves called up, that is.

7/27/2006 04:08:00 PM  
Blogger Arthur Dent said...

Ash 8:54 AM,

The irony in your citation is that there is no comparison between Israel in the land of Israel and American settlement of the west.

Do you question the legitimacy of Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Iran, Jordan or Syria? Or am I misunderstanding your point?

7/27/2006 04:14:00 PM  
Blogger John Aristides said...

Thanks for that link, Doug, but Landis has no idea what he is talking about.

Syria is the big loser, after Hezbollah. Only an advocate for an immediate ceasefire could, with a straight face, argue that America and Israel's present strategy will end up unwittingly empowering Syria.

7/27/2006 04:17:00 PM  
Blogger SarahWeddington said...

As a supporter of Israel, I hope Wretchard is correct, but I must say the facts on the ground are not good.

In 2 weeks, the IDF has been rather pitiful. A shameful performance,

Is this the same IDF that destroyed the Egyptian AF and Army in the Sinai? That grounded up the Syrians on the Golan and in the Vale of Tears? That was on the outskirts of Damascus in days? That took the West Bank and Jerusalem?

They can barely take and hold a small hilltop village!

They're staggering call ups and going piecemeal. They've killed at most a few hundred HB in 2 weeks. By comparison, in 6 days in 1967 they killed 25K arabs and in 1973 similar numbers.

I don't know how much time they think they have but as of now the IDF is suffering its first n odoubt about it defeat at the hands of an arab force. You don't think the Egyptians and Jordanians and Syrians aren't paying attention?

Part of the reason for the Egypt and Jordan treaties was that they accepted they could not defeat Israel. Guess what? After the IDF's weak output against HB, they Egyptians, the Jordanians and the Syrians would bring Jerusalem to its knees in mere hours. If Israel can't stop HB from firing Katyushas, you think they can stop the Egyptians and Syrians from firing much more deadly and destructive scuds and other IRBMs. Their planes from bombing the coast.

It appears the arabs have finally caught up. Israel is no longer able to defeat them conventionally and they don't have the stones to go Nuclear.

I predict a weak, decaying Israel with its 49 borders within 5-10 yrs and that Israel will not make it to its centennial.

A true shame.

7/27/2006 04:20:00 PM  
Blogger rich said...

Nazrallah in Syria for consultations?

I don't think so. I think Nazrallah fled Lebanon because the Israelis were getting too close to killing him.

And if he is in Syria then it is likely the kidnapped soldiers are there or in Iran.

I like your your speculation, but do not think Hezbollah thought it was their job to evacuate anyone. Hezbollah has written off their force and hope it can inflict some casualties on Israel.

The more civilian casualties the better for Hezbollah.

This is not a military operation for Hezbollah, it is an information operation. The more innocent suffering Hezbollah can generate the more successful the information operation will be.

7/27/2006 04:21:00 PM  
Blogger trangbang68 said...

Ash,If you ever come down from your ivory tower and pull a Rachel Corrie,please will me your Herbert Marcuse,Franz Fanon and Noam Chomsky library in case one of the costs of war is a rationing of toilet paper.Oh by the way,as they say here in upper Alabama"Yer crazy as hell!"

7/27/2006 04:33:00 PM  
Blogger Habu_3 said...

Off the coast of Tripoli when pirates reigned supreme one particular captain always wore a red shirt during combat.
Faced with two man o wars he told the cabin boy "fetch my red shirt"
Battle ensued and the pirates won.

Next day faced with four man o war ships the pirate captain said, "boy bring me my red shirt"
This time the cabin boy asked "why the red shirt?"... " So if I'm hit the men won't panic" ok said the cabin boy...battle ensued and the pirates prevailed once more.

Next day twelve man o war ships show on the horizon. The captain turns to the cabin boy and says.."son bring me my brown pants"

Hezbo boys are ordering brown pants as we blog.

7/27/2006 04:50:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...


7/27/2006 04:55:00 PM  
Blogger SarahWeddington said...

Why are they ordering brown pants when the Israeli govt has virtually surrendered and capitulated?

They will end this war having failed to defeat the hezbollah, failed to significantly erode or destroy their warmaking capabilty, failed to eliminate their leadership, failed to rescue their soldiers, failed to hold Syrian and Iran accountable.

In short, the IDF has failed in every mission assigned to it the past 2 weeks. They are being embarrassed and humiliated in front of the world.

The vaunted IDF, defeated by a few hundred terrorists. I pray for future of Israel. After the past two weeks I fear it is not long for this world.

7/27/2006 04:58:00 PM  
Blogger Arthur Dent said...

SarahWeddington 4:20 pm, Sarah it's me not you. Me not you. With that said I CANNOT help but read your post without hearing it spoken by Peg Bundy.

I'm sure it's not you.

7/27/2006 04:58:00 PM  
Blogger buddy larsen said...

Arthur, don't never go here.

Al Bundy, coming home from work: "Greetings vultures! Your meal ticket is here!"

7/27/2006 05:08:00 PM  
Blogger Habu_3 said...

A woman's tongue is her sword and she takes care never to let it rust.

attribution to someone at some other time

7/27/2006 05:18:00 PM  
Blogger buddy larsen said...

I think that was a Mr. Husband who said that.

7/27/2006 05:31:00 PM  
Blogger SarahWeddington said...


What are you talking about?

My point is that if you had asked anyone here or in Israel two weeks ago if by July 28th Hezbollah's rocket attacks on Israel would continue unabated, if their leadership would remain intact and in command, if the IDF would have at best advanced a few miles into Lebanon and taken control of a cuople of hills, everyone would hvae laughed at you.

The mere fact that 2 weeks in HB is still around at all is a huge defeat for the IDF, that Iran and Syria are still around is an even bigger defeat, and that a humliiating cease fire will soon be imposed that leves the IDF having failed in its objectives as well as Israel surrendering the Shebba Farms/Mt Dov region will be the biggest defeat.

There is no other way to spin it.

7/27/2006 05:38:00 PM  
Blogger buddy larsen said...


7/27/2006 05:45:00 PM  
Blogger skipsailing said...

I'd like to echo what aristede posted about Israel's plan.

I recall an operation in Iraq last summer that our gracious host discussed in great detail: Matador.

The set up was similar, a force was drawn up in full view of the insurgents holding the city. A blocking force was placed along the only path between the town and the syrian border.

The plan was simple: The insurgents that stood and fought would die. The insurgents that fled would die.

I had an opportunity to discuss this analysis with a Marine who was there and Wretchard got it right.

I see the same set up here. Hezbullah is suffering a severe loss at the top. Arab armies are pitiful at moving information down. Initiative isn't rewarded.

so we have a large number of people assuming leadership roles without a lot of experience or data.

There first impulse might well be to stand and fight. That is, after all, what they told the Lebanese they would do. If they do so they will be killed.

If the IDF moves resources into blocking positions, these hezbullah fighters cannot run because they will be killed.

the end state for israel is a lebanon without a hezbullah threat. No invasion, no occupation, no hezbullah.

We have discussed at length what Hezbullah has learned from the Iranians, but I wonder if we've ignored what the allies have learned from Iraq.

7/27/2006 05:48:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well Guys, I hope you're right, and Sarah is wrong; but, for the life of me, I can't make it more than 50/50.

7/27/2006 06:05:00 PM  
Blogger Bob Smith said...

Ralph Peters via Desert Rat: Leaders may bargain over who runs the ministry of health, but they won't horse-trade over conflicting visions of the divine. When men believe they hear a command from their god, they go deaf to other voices.

This is exactly the part I do not buy. From what I have read, the Shia-Sunni schism is not informed by conflicting visions of the divine but by conflicting visions of who was to succeed Mohammed - the first Caliph (85% Sunni) or Mohammed’s cousin/son-in-law (15% Shia). The cousin/son-in-law, Ali, is eventually elected Caliph No. 4, so the conflicting visions are confined to controversy over the legitimacy of the first three Caliphs, post 1077, IIRC.

This is not a substantive distinction in faith. My understanding is that the two groups interpret the Koran in a similar manner. So we are left with a divide over leadership that occurred 10 centuries ago and has little to do with interpretive belief. Bookkeeping and process over ethics.

Is this really a Big Question issue or a manufactured excuse for violence - and I not do hesitate much in adding - an thin veneer for the pursuit of power as a form of social validation?

7/27/2006 06:26:00 PM  
Blogger NahnCee said...

I think Sarah is wrong because of the bottom line of what they're fighting for. I can't believe that a bunch of beady-eyed uneducated bullying lunatics aiming for their 72 virgins will ultimately be about to out last, out think and out play civilized, strong, and educated Jews.

If the Arab Muslims *can* outlast the Jews, since we all seem to be saying they're evenly matched, then what the hell is so superior about our Western civilization that we've been fighting Wars on Terror to keep it?

If Israel loses, it is because they spawned and bred too many Sarah's, who are willing to give it all up because logic dictates that Israel cannot win.

Israel (and America) have always had a "damn the torpedo's!" mindset. I refuse to believe that either of these two great nations have given that bravery, passion and courage up simply because there are lots and lots of loud-mouthed liberals, and overly vocal rationalists eager to prove how smart they are.

7/27/2006 06:32:00 PM  
Blogger fjelehjifel said...


Thanks for sharing your speculative analysis on the Israeli-Hezbollah war.

Since time is in short supply, I'd like to confine my comments to this statement: ". . . why the IDF should so furiously pulverize Hezbollah's enclaves in southern Beirut, blockade the port and disable the airport. The object isn't to shut down Lebanon. It is to momentarily disorient the Hezbollah headquarters in Beirut, so that in a moment of absentmindedness, the Hezbollah forces in Southern Lebanon will do what comes most naturally: commit themselves against the IDF."

That may be the case, but I look at the IAF strikes in south Beirut a bit differently: I'd say they were aimed at decapitating Hezbollah's command apparatus, not just disorienting it, among other objectives. That the initial strikes failed to decapitate the command structure is now obvious, though some discombobulating effect probably did occur.

Moreover, I've noticed a clear economic element to some of the more recent IAF strikes, not just in south Beirut, but also in southern Lebanon, the Bekaa Valley, and elsewhere.

It is often said with good reason that Hezbollah is a "state within a state." It is important to understand that the organization also is an "economy within an economy."

Hezbollah owns and operates an array of banks, businesses, and other services that essentially underpin the economy of South Lebanon. By providing for the material well-being of Lebanon's Shiite community, Hezbollah has literally bought a large degree of its legitimacy.

In recent days, the IAF has pounded Hezbollah's banks and other financial institutions that do business with the organization. The IAF has also destroyed warehouses and vehicles that ultimately did not appear to have any military connection to Hezbollah.

At first, I thought these incidents might have been classic cases of collateral damage . . . IAF errors, in other words.

Now I suspect that the IAF is deliberately demolishing the pillars of Hezbollah's economy, one by one, to ensure that the organization will not be able to run a single soup kitchen after all is said and done.

7/27/2006 06:38:00 PM  
Blogger SarahWeddington said...

By the way, I am a total supporter of Israel. If I was in charge instead of Olmert, the Bekka Valley and S. Lebanon would have been nuked by now, the Syrian AF and tank corps decimated with explicit warnings to Damascus that if they try anything, we will respond in a way that makes what your father did in Hama look like child's play, and Tehran would have been told in no uncertain terms that if they want their regime to remain in power they will sit this one out.

I would have gone in in force and obliterated Hezbollah. If I have to take out some civilians to do it, so be it.

The US slaughtered hundreds of thousands of civilians in Okinawa, in Tokyo, in Wurzburg, in Hamburg, and elsewhere. Victory in war requires death.

Sherman knew this, so did Zhukov, Patton and other victorious commanders.

600 dead in 2 weeks is nothing. If 100K Lebanese were dead right now, perhaps they'd begin to see the light.

The IDF will suffer casualties, any force will. But in exchange for a few hundred Israeli dead, the Hezbollah will be completely annihilated. A trade any Israeli PM should gladly make.

If Israel is unewilling to risk casualties, unwilling or unable to suffer them, then they will be defeted, they will be destroyed, and I can't say that I will feel that sorry for them. Any nation that is unwilling to defend itself and unwilling to defeat its enemies is a nation on the road to disaster.

This strategy is one of defeat and I don't see it changing any time soon.

7/27/2006 06:38:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sarah, you're kin to Desert Rat, aren't you?

BTW, I wouldn't put it quite the way you do; but, a lot of what you say has validity.

7/27/2006 06:48:00 PM  
Blogger Joe Buzz said...

Sarah, In '67 and '73 how extensive were the enemy bunkers and how many rockets did they contain? Was the enemy fighting from behind civilians or were they lined up as/the convention of the day? I think you are being a little hard on the men in the green uniforms.
Can anyone tell me what is actually going on in this YouTube video supposedly shot in Gaza...other than a bunch of Tangos running around?
UN ambulance picking up fighters in Gaza Strip

7/27/2006 06:49:00 PM  
Blogger SarahWeddington said...


I am not willing to give up. I want to see the Hezbollah destroyed. Much like the Nazis and the Japanese were.

I am dismayed that the IDF is failing to do so and is appearing incompetent at whatever it is trying to achieve. I am dismayed that 2 weeks on, the entire Arab and Islamic world is witnessing an Israel unable to defeat and subdue its enemies, unable to stop its enemies from launching missiles at its cities, and impotent on the field of battle.

Unfortunately, I know what it took to destroy the Nazis and the Nips. I've seen the pictures of Berlin and Tokyo.

600 dead in 2 weeks and a few blocks in Beirut will not destroy the enemy.

I only wish we had leaders like Roosevelt, Truman, Churchill and Stalin who were willing to destroy the enemy. Olmert and Peretz are being exposed daily as the wrong men at the wrong time.

Destroy his cities, salt his farms and his fields, his livestock and food supply, his villages, his women, his children, destroy him until he kneels before your sword and submits himself for your mercy.

Destroy him until he unconditionally surrenders to you.

Never before in history has there been a situation where one side that has the capabilty to annihiliate an enemy sworn to its destruction has willingly refused to use all the means at its disposal to achieve victory. For the life of me, I cannot understand the timidity on the part of the west to defeat its enemies.

The entire Jihadist threat could be and should be ended within days, not years, not centuries.

7/27/2006 06:49:00 PM  
Blogger redaktør said...


The only power that can defeat Israel is the power that gives it political cover. That power is the US. It\'s the US that decides what will be Israel\'s political gain or loss. Israelis have learned that lesson as early as \'56. Israel can have the whole ME tomorrow if the US decides it so. Or Israel can be made to shrivel towards an indefensible border if the US decides it so. Guess towards what political outcome has the US been pushing? Why should the Israel sacrifice soldiers fighting for Lebanon or Saudi interests there? The political decisions have already been made as regards Israel. Let the US call for a cease fire. For Israel it makes little difference.

7/27/2006 06:52:00 PM  
Blogger Habu_3 said...

Doug 4:02

You would think someone like this Johnson fella would know not to be a bully and by innuendo no less.

He musta never heard of P.T."Bardyard" Tater and his awesome powers of persuasion.

He talks the talk, but does he walk the walk?
Possumtater got that fur ridge go'in up his back and is do'in some heavy salivat'n.
"Cry havoc and let da P-tater loose"

7/27/2006 06:54:00 PM  
Blogger SarahWeddington said...


Obviously I am exagerrating a bit. It's called rhetorical flair. It's to get attention and to make a point.

However, as you stated, deep down, everyone knows that what I'm saying is true. Everyone knows that if the ceasefire goes into effect tomorow, Hezbollah has won the biggest arab/muslim victory since the Ottomans were stopped at Vienna in 1642.

Hezbollah will be the first arab/muslim force to decisively defeat the IDF in combat. It will embolden Syria and Iran. It won't be long until Egypt and Jordan sense Israel's weakness and abandon their treaties. What will Israel do? They can't even derfeat Hezbollah, you think they can take on the Egyptians, with their billions in state of the art US weaponry.

I want to see victory but I am seeing defeat. I am seeing a leadership that is failing its people. Men like Olmert and Peretz disgrace the memory of Ben Gurion, Dayan and Rabin.

Perhaps it's no coincidence that as the IDF and Israel is suffering its first defeat at the hands of the enemy, the ultimate icon of their military prowess is wasting away in an ICU somewhere.

7/27/2006 06:55:00 PM  
Blogger exhelodrvr1 said...

1) It is WAY too soon to be making those statemehts about the IDF failing.

2) And the reality is that in today's world, if Israel acted completely without restraint like you think they should, they would lose virtually all support, including in the U.S. That would be the end of Israel, because it cannot survive in this world without that. Too many other entities have grudges against the Jews.

7/27/2006 07:01:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

Johnson is a nut.
P-tator is for real.

7/27/2006 07:02:00 PM  
Blogger Ronnie Schreiber said...

“Fixed fortifications are monuments to man's stupidity.” Geo. Patton

SarahWaddington, stop wringing your hands. Israel almost lost the 1973 war. Syrian tanks were on the edge of the Golan, overlooking Israel, and in Sinai the Egyptians had broken through. It wasn't 30 KIA in two weeks. It was 3000 KIA in three weeks. Yes, Sharon turned the tide brilliantly in the south. Yes, the resupplied IAF and a literal handful of die hard tankers saved Israel on the Golan fighting against incredible odds. Tzvika Greengold, wounded, burned, changing tanks six times as they were hit and disabled, alone, and with tiny groups of tanks held off a column of 200 Syrian tanks on the Tapline Road. Shmuel Asakarov and his gunner took out 35 Syrian tanks and additional APCs before being blown out his tank only to discharge himself from a hospital AMA and returned to the front.

Israelis are not superheros. They bleed, die and make terrible blunders. In this case, however, I think we are simply seeing the cost of hot warfare, not the IDF losing.

This is the most casualty prone kind of warfare, house to house and clearing out bunkers. It costs blood. Israelis understand that.

Israeli morale is perhaps the strongest it's been since 1967. I spoke to my brother in Jerusalem today and he said banners reading Chazak v'Ematz, "be strong and of good courage", Joshua 1:19, are flying from almost every building. Leftwingers who would not serve in the occupied territories and rightwingers who would not evict settlers are volunteering before their reserve units are called up.

7/27/2006 07:06:00 PM  
Blogger Bob Smith said...

As a footnote to my previous comment: Is this really a Big Question issue or a manufactured excuse for violence - and I not do hesitate much in adding - an thin veneer for the pursuit of power as a form of social validation?

Which is to say, the Shia-Sunni division is not so much a religious conflict as it is a Nietzsche power play, which implies a generic response, more consistent with historical human vulnerabilities and less dependent on the contextual specifics.

7/27/2006 07:10:00 PM  
Blogger buddy larsen said...

Sarah, read joe buzz. You're stuck in a textual loop. Break it by understanding the tactical differences in play. IDF is not losing this--on the contrary, they're busting up the enemy according to stated objectives. Yes, the world is more dangerous and interconnected than ever before, and it depresses me, too, that we can't simplify this thing. But you've gone off the deep end, gloomwise. Remember that a bouyant, fighting spirit is a deadly weapon--don't throw yours away, don't step on your own thesis. The kids in combat deserve better from you.

7/27/2006 07:10:00 PM  
Blogger Joe Buzz said...

I apprecaite your opinion and it's flair but unless you have an info conduit directly to the "institute" you like the rest of us are at the mercy of the MSM and their statistics. We all know what that is worth. Lets take a deep breath and let the dust settle a bit.
Doug, I agree P-tater is one mean marsupialmofo. His mother once commented that she wished she had a seperate pouch just to isolate him from his sibs. She used to call him her little pouch-sbud. The only way she could get him to smile was to feed him persimmons.....

7/27/2006 07:21:00 PM  
Blogger buddy larsen said...

Re bob smith on "will-to-power", one could add as corollary the so-called "iron law of oligarchy" wherein parallel bureaucracies--in this case shia/sunni--have no choice but to contend for power.

7/27/2006 07:22:00 PM  
Blogger Habu_3 said...

i do not know Israel plan,probably few do but let me illuminate a part of a battle fought years ago. It may, in some way, give a tiny insight into what is going on right now.

Gettysburg, day 3 1863. The largest cannon duel ever fought on this continent had been going on for well over an hour in preparation for Gen. George Pickett's infamous failed charge.
Neither side was gaining an advantage in the duel.
A Union major asked his commanding officer (wish I could remember the names off the top of my head but I can't) if he thought the Union commanding general, Geo. G. Meade wanted the south to attack his very strong position. " Of course said the colonel" The major then suggested that instead of expending further ammo that the north should cease firing, letting the south believe that their artillery had been silenced. Surely then the south would attack. It worked. Pickett and his 12,000 men went forth and when they got into the open the north opened up with everything they had. Pickett lost his entire division, the south never recovered and 2 years later the war ended.
What this may say is that Israel is controlling the tempo so the Hezboys keep fighting, maybe even begin to believe they can win. I do not think they can but you don't want them to hide. You want the fight. Time will tell.
Certainly the US must at some point get with it in Syria.
Condi Rice is over her head and the President is getting an earful about her being suckered. She's a Russian specialist. The fight will go on and we will prevail. If we do not the dead will rise from a million graves and demand to know why.

7/27/2006 07:23:00 PM  
Blogger Joe Buzz said...


7/27/2006 07:23:00 PM  
Blogger buddy larsen said...

Ole Uncle Pogo could always make him smile--being a big star like he wuz in the comic strips.

7/27/2006 07:27:00 PM  
Blogger Joe Buzz said...

Nobody care to comment on my UN Ambu vid? looks pretty authentic...whoever took it had some stones...

7/27/2006 07:33:00 PM  
Blogger Bob Smith said...

Buddy: one could add as corollary the so-called "iron law of oligarchy" wherein parallel bureaucracies--in this case shia/sunni--have no choice but to contend for power.

My point is: is this something special, in the SNL Church Lady sense or is it [human] business as usual? I don't see a 'clash of civilzations' so much as I see 'will to power.' If we can remove the religious overtones, the 'problem' simplifies.


7/27/2006 07:59:00 PM  
Blogger Bob Smith said...

I'm sorry. I interrupted the Sarah debate.

Timing is all.

7/27/2006 08:14:00 PM  
Blogger Ash said...

Arthur Dent said...
"Ash 8:54 AM,

The irony in your citation is that there is no comparison between Israel in the land of Israel and American settlement of the west"

Well, it was Buddy that made the comparison and I was responding to his jingoistic interpretation of American history. Now that you bring it up, is there not a valid parallel between white europeans settling a foreign land and driving out the natives? To further the analogy to today - given the palestinian hisory of fleeing advancing Israeli armies to refugee camps to never return home how would you view Israel's 'leaflets' asking you to leave your home in Lebanon in the face of advancing Israeli armies? If you had little problem with never returning again I guess you to would flee.

7/27/2006 08:17:00 PM  
Blogger trangbang68 said...

Sarah,Hate to pile on or nitpick,but we need leaders like Stalin....uh no,I don't think so.

7/27/2006 08:26:00 PM  
Blogger buddy larsen said...

Ash, you're stuck on one note about American history: Every settler that loaded family and worldly goods in a Conestoga and headed west was a little Eichmann.

Too bad a few hundred thousand Amerindians didn't get to keep North America for a free-range hunting ground. It would have been a beautiful tourist destination for European ghetto-dwellers. You hit the jingo note reflexively, when the true purveyor of over-simplified myth is (*cough*) you.

And your position on the Leb war is the usual feel-good-on-the-cheap moralizing. Of course the death and displacement is terrible--do you think you've stumbled on a secret?

What about this--which side can bring peace by laying down arms? Now, which side can commit suicide by laying down arms?

Joe Buzz--it looks pretty clear to me.

7/27/2006 08:58:00 PM  
Blogger buddy larsen said...

What was Israel supposed to do about the thousand or so missile attacks that've been escalating for a year now, Ash?


Yes, but, what's on the table? Give me your life or your life?

Do you ever even TRY to think through your positions?

Or does every issue just flip your switch to automatic self-assigned moral-superiority?

You lefties hamstring common-sense politics until pressures can't be contained, and then the wars start.

You're dangerous as hell, but at least you feel good about yourselves.

And that's what's important!

7/27/2006 09:26:00 PM  
Blogger Irene NYC said...

Israel seems to be making a smart PR effort this time around. It would not surprise me one bit if they have deliberately allowed the katushyas to keep flying in part for the unity, sympathy and support factor. As it is, the Lebanese:Israeli death count is approximately 10 to 1. And while Lebanon is claiming over 600,000 refugees, Israel is able to counterclaim 1,000,000 citizens surviving in bunkers. Imagine what the international media would be saying if the Israelis were defeating Hezballah and no rockets/missiles were flying into Israel. Those katushyas are dividing the international community and garnering support for Israel in some very unlikely places. And that is very much working to the advantage of Israel.

7/27/2006 09:32:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

They don't call it the
"Ash Heap of History"
for nothing!

7/27/2006 09:37:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

Solitary Confinement for P-tator?

7/27/2006 09:43:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

7:10 PM Let's hope Sarah's Thesis isn't a banana.

7/27/2006 09:47:00 PM  
Blogger buddy larsen said...

Doug, what is that KISS Principle? "Keep It Stupid, Simple"?

7/27/2006 10:06:00 PM  
Blogger NahnCee said...

I would like to nominate John Bolton for Secretary of State. Just as soon as we pull out of the UN.

Condi can go make nice-nice with Putin or the Chinese or some damned thing.

7/27/2006 10:15:00 PM  
Blogger buddy larsen said...

Nahncee, he wouldn't make a bad president, either--except he raises his voice, and fires incompetents.

7/27/2006 10:30:00 PM  
Blogger Jamie Irons said...

Doug wrote:

Solitary Confinement for P-tator?

Where the hell is P-tater?

I made the kids come in early because I head a screaming sound in the woods up behind our place; I thought it was just the relief of all the wildlife at the breaking of our recent hot spell (temperature dropped almosyt forty degrees in 24 hours) but the it occurred to me he (P-tater) might be up there stirring things up

Just wondering.

Jamie Irons

7/27/2006 10:40:00 PM  
Blogger Jamie Irons said...

...heard a screaming sound...

...almost forty degrees...



Jamie Irons

7/27/2006 10:43:00 PM  
Blogger buddy larsen said...

I really hope you do better on the prescriptions you enscribe, Dr. Irons.

7/27/2006 10:59:00 PM  
Blogger buddy larsen said...

"Dr. Irons, Mrs. Smith is on the phone, and she says those pills you gave her have grown her an extra head."

7/27/2006 11:01:00 PM  
Blogger Peter said...

In regards to the relative number of casualties, do not compare the numbers, but the percentages. How many soldiers per hundred thousnand population, and how many hundred thousand are in the whole population to draw from.
Israel is a small country, about the size of New Jersey, with a population to match; when I wsa there in 1977, there was an IDF helicopter crash. All 19 (iirc) of those killed were listed on the front page of the Jerusalem Post.
For Comparison, the US has 2 million men annually come of age to perform military service, Israel has just over half that many fit to serve between 17 and 49 (1.2 million)
So when Israel reports 14 KIA, they do mean heavy casualties. By comparison, the US Army would need to take 480 casualties, to have the same level of impact.

7/28/2006 12:00:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

I heard tell he "hangs out" around Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil
Possum like.

7/28/2006 05:02:00 AM  
Blogger Aristophanes said...

Let's say the above fiction is in reality all true. The IDF surrounds Hezzbollah and anniliates them. What comes next?

Occupation, pollyana campaign to win the hearts and minds of the Lebonese? No you know that's not in the cards.

How bout reinforcements to Hezzbollah with better equipement over the next ten years? Yeah that sounds more like it.

I enjoy being amused by old farts typing away about the lessons of Iwo Jima or some other glorious battles past. Let's cut to the chase, this ain't yer daddy's war. I think the experts call it 4th gen warfare. The difference being that you don't have states aligned against you but gangs, "cells", small groups. You ain't going to win this with tactics past.

The other side is winning and technology and time is on their side.

7/28/2006 08:31:00 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

I came across an interesting work by Norvell B. De Atkine, a retired US Army colonel who spend about eight years in the middle east. in his paper he reviews the cultural obstacles that result in poor performance from Arab Armies.

I thought that sounded familiar. The article in question is Why Arabs Lose Wars.

7/28/2006 09:48:00 AM  
Blogger Consul-At-Arms said...

I've linked to you here:

7/28/2006 09:59:00 AM  
Blogger Pomp said...

The idea that that the Israelis are gong after the center of gravity assumes that the cabinet has a military frame of reference.
It is a bunch of civilians trying to micro-manage the army just as Johnson tried to pick targets in North Vietnam. They are mucking around without a clear strategy to take out Hiz's center of gravity. This is going to be a long one unless tactics change.

7/28/2006 10:36:00 AM  
Blogger Captain Jarred Fishman, USAFR said...

Well gee- now that I have found out the truth from some American chick typing on her computer I am really bummed.

Here I thought that Brigadier and Major Generals in the Israeli Defense Forces were privy to the Mossad/Aman intelligence. Now that I realize Sarah knows more about military strategy than THIRTY YEAR MILITARY VETERANS- I can sleep better at night.

7/28/2006 10:49:00 AM  
Blogger M. Simon said...

I have done a similar analysis (without refrence to wretchard's) and walk along similar lines.

However I think the target is Syria

7/28/2006 10:52:00 AM  

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