July 13, 2006

Regional War in the Mideast: Our Role?

Regional War in the Mideast: Our Role?

On yesterday’s news that Israel has entered Lebanon and has now bombed the airport in Beirut and laid out a naval blockade, we are wondering (and so is everyone else) whether we’re looking at another regional war. As Israel made cautious peace with its neighbors over the last twenty-five years, it seemed — to the American observer, at least — that Israel had only one remaining intractable problem, the one with the Palestinians in its midst.

But are we returning, through the proxies of Hamas and Hezbollah, to the pan-Arab wars of the sixties? There are a lot of questions here, but we’re wondering where the US is in all of this. Do we have options? Can we make this better? Do we have the leverage and credibility to step in? Are we ready to? Do we want to?

Extra Credit Reading

Moussa Bachir, Lebanon: The Current Israeli Aggression, Global Voices, July 13, 2006

Allison Kaplan Sommer, Hitting Them Hard, an unsealed room, July 13, 2006

Jeremy Bowen, Acts of war raise risk to region, BBC News, July 13, 2006

Related Content


  • jdyer

    I can see from the guest list that this is going to be another anti-Israel hate fest.

    Try telling both sides of the story for once, Chris.

  • Shaman

    Wow. It seems like really bad stuff is always waiting under the surface in the Middle East.

    Just when it looked like Iraq’s meltdown was THE BIG STORY the rest of the region dives into chaos as if to compete with the bad news from Iraq. So bleak.

    Despite Arafat and Sharon being long gone from the stage the course has not changed a bit between Israel and its neighbors. It seems to be leading inexorably to some enormous regional war no matter that Israel pulled out of Lebanon and Gaza and no matter that the Palestinians are now choosing their own new leaders.

    Are allies lining up behind the respective sides? Will Israel use the soldier hostage situation as a pretense to bomb Iran or Syria? Then what? Will Iran defend Hizbollah?

    What else is just under the surface waiting to explode in this region?

  • What I posted above is a reading list, not a guest list. Sorry for the confusion. Jdyer (and everyone), your suggestions for reading and guests are always welcome.

  • Potter

    Steve Erlanger’s analysis in today’s New York Times is good, very good:

    Sign That Crisis is Regional, not Just Israel vs. Palestinians

    I remember reading that one reason why Arafat could not say “yes” was that he was not getting the support he needed from the surrounding countries ( for instance regarding the right of return for refugees and the status of Jerusalem). There can be no real end to this conflict without involving the neighboring countries and dealing with the extremists. This infection had to surface and be dealt with– as with the Hamas, so too with Hizbollah.

  • jdyer

    “Are allies lining up behind the respective sides? Will Israel use the soldier hostage situation as a pretense to bomb Iran or Syria? Then what? Will Iran defend Hizbollah? ”

    As an excuse? Excuse me.

    It is a governments responsibility to defend its citizens.

    Since that soldier was abducted there was an attack in the north of the country where a number of soldiers were slaughtered and two soldiers were abducted by Hisbollah.

    This occurred after Israel withdrew from Gaza and Lebanon. The message sent to that country is that it doesn’t matter what israel does. It will still be attacked by Islamic radicals like Hisbollah and Hamas and their sponsors: Syria and Iran.

    Israel has every right to defend itself and to go after Syria and Iran if that is the only way to stop these cross border assaults and kidnapping.

  • Potter

    PS- at the Global Voices link, I thought Edward’s was terrific.

  • jdyer

    Thanks for the clarification Henry.

    May I suggest you also set up a link to a British left wenbsite:

    http://hurryupharry.bloghouse.net/

    it also offers links to other leftist web sites who believe that a two State solution is the only answer to the conflict and supports Israel’s right to self defence:

    http://www.unite-against-terror.com/

    http://www.engageonline.org.uk/blog/index.php

    and

    http://www.democratiya.com/default.asp

    They also published a manifesto which can be found here:

    http://eustonmanifesto.org/joomla/

    and the text is here:

    http://eustonmanifesto.org/joomla/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=12&Itemid=38

    Finally,

    the spirit of the new new left is expressed in an interview with Fred Halliday a former editor in chief of The New Left Review:

    http://www.skidmore.edu/salmagundi/halliday.htm

    His analysis of the world situation deserves its own show.

  • jdyer

    For blogger from the Israeli side try:

    Allison Kaplan Sommer: an unsealed room

    http://allisonkaplansommer.blogmosis.com/

  • Brendan

    Thanks for the tip on Alison Kaplan Sommer; we like her, we’ve had her on the show before, and Henry had already put her on the reading list up there.

  • jdyer

    Yes, Alison is a good bet.

    You should also do a show on the Euston Manifesto sometimes. While it originated on the other side of the pond, the critique of contemporary left politics is valid here also.

    I believe that some of its authors also publish in the American journal “Dissent.”

    http://www.dissentmagazine.org/

  • Shaman

    Jdyer:

    “Israel has every right to defend itself and to go after Syria and Iran if that is the only way to stop these cross border assaults and kidnapping.”

    Yes. I am trying to understand the strategy (albeit from my little armchair) of those who are in power in Israel and Iran. The kidnapping is being used as a pretense by Israel for more sweeping action to finally eliminate Hizbollah or make Hizbollah unwelcome at least in Lebanon. Olmert is being tested by Iran through Hizbollah and has to prove himself to some Israelies after not showing a harder line to some of his constituents regarding his softer (by comparison) handling of the current Gaza situation (also a kidnapping). Meanwhile Iran appears to be behind these kidnappings in an effort to draw Israel into confrontation.

    The real question is how far will this major battle go?

    If Israel counterattacks Hizbollah in Syria as well as Lebanon, which it may have the right to do, or if Israel attacks Iran, which it also may have the right to do (since the Hizbollah kidnappers and rockets are supported by these countries), this would be quite a gamble.

    It seems that the war would pull in all countries in the region and some country – perhaps Iran – will attack Israel directly (rather than through the proxy of Hizbollah as they are doing now).

    A direct war between Israel and Iran (or Israel and Syria) would not leave many on the sidelines. Many arabs may be compelled by either their religion or their hardline governments or nationalism, whatever, to fight along with Hizbollah. Israel would win any such confrontation militarily over time but would suffer politically if it is seen as over-reacting.

    Hizbollah, Hamas, Iran, Syria and so on do not suffer political fallout from anything they do – no matter how insidious – because they paint themselves as victims of Israeli aggression and they are appealing only to the nearby populations anyway. It reinforces the propaganda. But Israel only has political friends overseas – not in the area.

    The pullout from Lebanon and Gaza won Israel some well-earned political points in the US population and on the world stage. It appears Iran and Syria, working through Hamas and Hezbollah, want to drag Israel back into looking like an aggressor because it benefits them to do so.

    Israel is being repeatedly taunted and tested by Iran through Hizbollah. No doubt Olmert will put an end to this harrassment both for his own constituency and to show his neighbors he won’t put up with it.

    There have been arab-Israeli battles before. This one feels more dangerous than usual.

    Olmert says, “act of war” and Iran says “wipe israel off the map”.

    But only Lebanon is saying ‘ceasefire’.

  • Almost a million jews were expelled from Arab countries.They lost their property and citizenship.They lived in tents as refugees .Eventually they intergrated into the countries that accepted them all over the world.Most went to Israel .Of about 680 resolutions made by the United nation on the middle east , not one addressed the Jewish refugees from Arab countries. Why doesn’t anyone care about this important fact?… Palestine had 1600 000 total population in 1946 , 600 000 were jewish. The rest were Christians and Muslim .Watch the video “the fogotten refugees”It will explain the involment of the head of the muslim brotherhood and a pact with Hitler to exterminate the jews from Arab countries. Hamas is a wing of the Moslem Brotherhood and Muslim brotherhood are Nazis. There is a long history of hate from the Moslem toward Jews . if you want peace and justice in the middle east , there needs to be truth…Learn the history!

  • P.S. Here is the link for the video http://www.theforgottenrefugees.com/

  • jdyer

    Shaman,

    “Yes. I am trying to understand the strategy (albeit from my little armchair) of those who are in power in Israel and Iran.”

    I can’t accept your equating Israel with Iran.

    “The kidnapping is being used as a pretense by Israel for more sweeping action to finally eliminate Hizbollah or make Hizbollah unwelcome at least in Lebanon.”

    Israel didn’t need that excuse to go after Hisbollah which has on a number of occasion attacked Israelis inside Israel as well as launching rocket attacks on villages in the north.

    You also need to ask yourself why would Israel want to get rid of Hisbollah and not say some party in Jordan? Could it be that it’s because Hisbollah sees itself as the enemy of Israel and is launching attacks on its people?

    The kidnapping was merely the latest such incident.

    “Olmert is being tested by Iran through Hizbollah and has to prove himself to some Israelies after not showing a harder line to some of his constituents regarding his softer (by comparison) handling of the current Gaza situation (also a kidnapping).”

    That may be but it is irrelevant. Any PM (any world leader) would have had to react if the people of their country was being attacked.

    “Meanwhile Iran appears to be behind these kidnappings in an effort to draw Israel into confrontation.”

    This is probably true, but Iran has been baiting the Jewish State for years, now.

    I dount that in itself, if the kidnapping had been a one time incident there would have been such a reaction.

    It’s the same with Gaza, it’s the cumulative effect of these attacks that forced the government there to act.

  • jdyer

    Rachel,

    “Learn the history!”

    I agree, Rachel.

    here are some facts about Hisbollah:

    http://switch5.castup.net/frames/20041020_MemriTV_Popup/video_480x360.asp?ai=214&ar=713wmv&ak=null

  • Brendan asks in the introduction,

    “but we’re wondering where the US is in all of this. Do we have options? Can we make this better? Do we have the leverage and credibility to step in? Are we ready to? Do we want to?

    After Iraq and the failed policy of unequivocally supporting Israel’s violent and repressive occupation of Palestine, I wonder how any question of the US stepping in and making anything better can be raised at all. What, another quick-fix? Hasn’t the US done enough to destabalize this part of the world?

  • jdyer

    “After Iraq and the failed policy of unequivocally supporting Israel’s violent and repressive occupation of Palestine, I wonder how any question of the US stepping in and making anything better can be raised at all. What, another quick-fix? Hasn’t the US done enough to destabalize this part of the world?”

    Sidewlaker, this is one sided and biased view of the conflict.

  • jdyer

    http://www.free-lebanon.com/

    OPEN REQUEST TO PRIME MINISTER EHUD OLMERT

    This is a letter from the Lebanese Foundation for Peace which seems to have a different view of the conflict from that of Sidewalker.

  • Prior to the US entering WWII Continental Europe and the better part of Asia were pretty stable places. I mean just look at it: Continental Europe hadn’t been as unified under Hitler since Nepolean, and Asia never had been and hasn’t since been as unified as it was under Imeperial Japanese rule.

    Destablizing a part of the world that is a sesspool is not bad. Maybe turning over the toilet bowl that is most of the Middle East will allow the crap that is there to flow into the sewer as it should and clean the place up a bit?

  • After the bombing of Beirut’s international airport, people across the city spoke to the BBC News website about their fears for the future.

    “I think Hezbollah’s action are completely out of line. They are acting independently of the Lebanese government and have no right to incite this violence against Israel.”

    “Hezbollah’s demands are ridiculous and I don’t think they will be met. Lebanon will be reduced to rubble before these prisoners are returned.”

    “This country is carrying the pains of the entire Arab world.

    Worse still, it looks like a group of people are getting their commands from outside the country. We have a president who is fully behind Hezbollah, a puppet for Syria.”

    “If I were acting for Hezbollah, I would not have kidnapped those two soldiers. But it’s done now and it would be counter-productive for us Lebanese to speak up against it.”

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/5176582.stm

  • http://www.meforum.org/article/513

    How the Arabs Compare

    Arab Human Development Report 2002

    On July 2, 2002, the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) released the Arab Human Development Report 2002. The report, compiled by a “group of distinguished Arab intellectuals” led by Egyptian statistician Nader Fergany, has resonated in the Western and Arab media. With uncommon candor and a battery of statistics, the report tells a sorry story of two decades of failed planning and developmental decline. One inescapable conclusion emerges from its sober pages of tables and charts: the Arab world is in decline, even relative to the developing world.

    “The report was written by Arabs for Arabs,” announced a U.N. official.[1] Arabs did read it (it was also released in Arabic), and Arab authorship made its arguments more palatable to Arab intellectuals and policymakers. A columnist in Al-Ahram Weekly urged “a serious, deep reading” of the report, since “no changes will occur without Arabs first facing the facts, however unpalatable they may be.”[2] The editor of the Saudi Arab News wrote that the report “should be distributed to all Arabs,” and “should be compulsory reading.”[3]

  • But it was not just Arabs who read the report. “If you want to understand the milieu that produced bin Ladenism, and will reproduce it if nothing changes, read this report”—so wrote New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman.[4] From another direction, Independent correspondent Robert Fisk found that the report “all too accurately sums up the barren, ossified life of so many Arab countries.”[5] Historian Victor Davis Hanson wrote that the report’s findings “lend credence to almost everything brave scholars like Bernard Lewis and Daniel Pipes have been saying for years.”[6] Analysts who agree over very little else agreed that the report deserved close reading.

    The core assumption of the report is that poverty is not merely a matter of income. As Fergany put it: “A person who is not free is poor. A woman who is not empowered is poor. And a person who has no access to knowledge is poor.”[7] By all these criteria, the Arab region—even some of its wealthiest corners—could only be described as impoverished. In line with this approach, the report went beyond the U.N.’s standard Human Development Index (HDI)—an amalgam of four developmental measures[8]—to include other measures of political and social freedom.

  • While many Arab intellectuals rail against globalization, the report accepts it as an inevitable consequence of modernity and measures Arab performance—economic, scientific, social, and political— by global standards. One of the most remarkable aspects of the report is its resort to explicit comparison of the Arab region with other regions. The report deliberately draws comparisons that emphasize the depth of the crisis, in a bid to shatter the complacency and denial that afflict the Arab discourse on development. The most provocative comparisons stack the Arab world against the so-called “Asian Tigers” and Israel. According to the report, it is comparison “with regions that have done better [than the Arab region], that matters in any discussion of enhancing human development in the Arab region. Comparing the region with those [regions] that have done less well could invite undesirable self-congratulation in the face of major challenges.”

    The following excerpts from the report include passages that explicitly compare the Arab world with other world regions. Middle East Quarterly has rearranged the excerpts around themes and omitted references to supporting tables and graphs. This constitutes only a small sampling of the 168-page report, which also contains in-depth analyses of trends, detailed statistical tables and graphs, methodological caveats, and policy recommendations. The full report is available at http://www.undp.org/rbas/ahdr/english.html. —The Editors

  • And to reiterate and also put this report into perspective. It was written by Arab Scholars. And sponsored by the UN – the same organization that can’t agree on a written definition of terrorism because of the Islamic / Arab block of 60 or so countries who will not allow it.

    If you can’t read the whole report, I’d suggest that you go to the link in the article above at the Middle East Forum (meforum) that includes portions of the report re-organized by subject.

    Also, there has been additonal reports released every year since and each or more explanations of the failures of the Islamic / Arab world.

  • jdyer said: “Sidewlaker, this is one sided and biased view of the conflict.”

    Certainly not any more one sided or biased by your prejudied opinions.

  • I wonder why if, the US is bogged down in Iraq we have just convinced the UN 5 + 1 to submit Iran to the full UN Security council and why Saudi Arabia and Egypt are both essentially backing the US position against Hamas and Hezbollah.

    As most analysts are saying, Iran’s unleashing of Hezbollah is in reaction to the move of the UN and so they must feel threatened by it. And, the entire process of getting the UN to take the Iranian Nuke Program to the UN was the US / Bush’s effort. And, as Bush classified Iran as a member of the “Axis of Evil” it would seem that this is all part of a plan.

    The problem with liberalism is that it equates being involved in a conflict / struggle / war with losing.

  • jdyer, is there anything fair about the degree of force? Is there anything fair about the number of casualties? Is there anything fair about who controls whose quality of life?

  • Koffi Annan agrees with “right-wing nut job super hawk” Michael Ledeen.

    UN Chief Blames Iran For Meddling In Lebanon

    “Kofi Annan has publicly scolded Iran for its financing and involvement with Hezbollah and their interference with the new democratic government of Lebanon. Benny Avni reports for the New York Sun on a rare outing by the UN of Iran’s terror network ties and their efforts to undermine secular movements within Southwest Asia:

    Secretary-General Annan for the first time has accused the mullahs of Iran of interfering in the affairs of the sovereign state Lebanon and asked that they heed the 2004 Security Council resolution urging the country’s complete independence.

    Mr. Annan last night also expressed his deep concern about the actions of Iran’s surrogate militia – the terrorist organization Hezbollah, which operates in Lebanon – and its repeated defiance of the council’s call for the disarming of all factions in Lebanon.

    The language of the report, finalized late yesterday afternoon by the secretary-general’s envoy in Lebanon, Terje Roed-Larsen, took a blunt tone for the usually mild-mannered Mr. Annan. .”

    http://canadiancoalition.com/forum/messages/15906.shtml

  • The Same War

    Hezbollah, natch.

    By Michael Ledeen

    No one should have any lingering doubts about what’s going on in the Middle East. It’s war, and it now runs from Gaza into Israel, through Lebanon and thence to Iraq via Syria. There are different instruments, ranging from Hamas in Gaza to Hezbollah in Syria and Lebanon and on to the multifaceted “insurgency� in Iraq. But there is a common prime mover, and that is the Iranian mullahcracy, the revolutionary Islamic fascist state that declared war on us 27 years ago and has yet to be held accountable.

    It is very good news that the White House immediately denounced Iran and Syria, just as Ambassador Khalilzad had yesterday tagged the terrorist Siamese twins as sponsors of terrorism in Iraq. For those who doubt the Iranian hand, remind yourself that Hezbollah is a wholly owned subsidiary of the mullahcracy (with Syria providing some supplies, and free run of the territory), and then read what Iraq the Model had to say yesterday, Wednesday:

    Hizbollah is Iran’s and Syria’s partner in feeding instability in Iraq as there were evidence that this terror group has a role in equipping and training insurgents in Iraq and Hizbollah had more than once openly showed support for the “resistanceâ€? in Iraq and sponsored the meetings of Baathist and radical Islamist militants who are responsible for most of the violence in Iraq.

    Notice, please, that he says Iran “sponsored the meetings of Baathist and radical Islamist militants…â€? He is talking Sunnis here, the same Sunnis who, according to CIA deep thinkers and scads of academic experts, cannot possibly work closely with Shiites like, ahem, the mullahs of Tehran. Iraq the Model isn’t burdened by this wisdom, and so he just reports what he sees on the ground in his own country.

    http://article.nationalreview.com/print/?q=NDE4MDA3NDUyYjA0ZGY1MzQ4NjM5NjM1MWY4NDVkZGM=

  • I wonder what is one sided about the UN Report on Arab Development? About Anan views of Iran? About Iran and the UN? About Iran and Hezbollah?

    These are all just a continuing set of events that are inevitable since the fall of the Ottoman Empire, the fall of the Old pre-WWII European societies and the fall of the post WWII Soviet Empire.

    The US just happens to be the predominant power (Or Empire, if you beleive Chris’ article at Puffingtonhost) and the number one force of modernity / globalization in this era.

    This is all just the inevitable chaos thsat happens as world history turns over from one era to another the Arabs, thier societies and thier “countries” are just the biggest rubbish pile left to clean up.

  • Saudi Arabia criticizes Hizbullah

    Associated Press, by Staff Original Article

    Posted By: citizen1 – 7/13/2006 11:43:55 PM Post Reply

    In a significant move, Saudi Arabia, the Arab world’s political heavyweight and economic powerhouse, accused Hizbullah guerrillas – without naming them – of “uncalculated adventures” that could precipitate a new Middle East crisis. A Saudi official quoted by the state Saudi Press Agency said the Lebanese Hizbullah’s brazen capture of two Israeli soldiers was not legitimate.

    http://www.lucianne.com/

  • Attacks Could Erode Faction’s Support

    Pressure Building Against Shiite Militia

    BEIRUT, July 13 — The radical Shiite movement Hezbollah and its leader, Hasan Nasrallah, hold an effective veto in Lebanese politics, and the group’s military prowess has heartened its supporters at home and abroad in the Arab world. But that same force of arms has begun to endanger Hezbollah’s long-term standing in a country where critics accuse it of dragging Lebanon into an unwinnable conflict the government neither chose nor wants to fight.

    “To a certain Arab audience and Arab elite, Nasrallah is a champion, but the price is high,” said Walid Jumblatt, a member of parliament and leader of Lebanon’s Druze community. “We are paying a high price.”

    The conflict will likely prove a turning point in the history of the movement, which was created with Iranian patronage in the wake of the 1982 Israeli invasion of Lebanon. It has since evolved from a terrorist organization blamed for two attacks on the U.S. Embassy and the 1983 bombing of the Marine barracks in Beirut, which killed 241 Marines, into a sprawling movement with a member and supporter in Lebanon’s cabinet, a militia that effectively controls southern Lebanon, and an infrastructure that delivers welfare to its Shiite constituency, Lebanon’s largest community.

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/07/13/AR2006071301743_pf.html

  • I’m finished, for now. But I would say that poor old Chimp Boy Bush has been vindicated again.

    He is like the Forrest Gump of world affairs and politics – just as it looks like he is a goner evetns conspire to save him / make him look good.

  • nother

    If someone writes 13 posts (so far) but they are all less then 200 words each, does that mean the person has stayed within the guidelines or does that mean the person has posted around 1300 words in this thread (so far). I’m sorry if my question comes off as snide, I just feel that others should be held to the same standard as Nikos -for instance.

  • Nother, I don’t think there really are standards, just a lot of rule-making for the sake of it. Many posts go over the 200 words, some people post entire articles from elsewhere rather than just links, and posts lacking civility and respect are often ignored. I seem to remember promises of more ROS staff involvement. Hmmm….

    Someone please remind me. What was the purpose of the Rules of Engagement to begin with?

    Sorry to interject this comment in this thread.

  • nother

    Don’t get me wrong sidewalker, overall I’m as happy as a pig in ____ about this site. I don’t mind people going over the word limit a little because I do it my self; that’s why they called it “guidelines” and not rules. You mentioned staff involvement. I’d rather the staff error on the side of less intervention. I don’t mean interaction, I love it when they interact, I mean intervention. Anyhow, It’s all good, I don’t want to make a mountain out of a molehill.

  • nother

    btw, I just copied and pasted part of the thread above to word, then I did a word count, it took all of 30 seconds. The posts of Winston Dodson came out to over 2000 words not 1300. No biggie really, it’s just that we don’t even know when this show will air and I was hoping that by pointing this out, he might slow those posts down a little so no one person is dominating the thread. It would be different, from my perspective at least, if he had been engaged in a conversation. I’m only sensitive to this issue because Nikos, a main blogger here, left because of this issue. That is the last I’ll say on the subject, thank you.

  • I must have missed something. I will take the time to review the rules of engagement and comply.

    What I find interesting though is how this rule will always serve to protect the premise that the shows producers with to use as the basis of the show i.e. I am always blown away by the basic lack of balance depth provided by the shows producers when the supply the “sources” at the beginning. I will only only point out that if one also did a world count of my posts and then did an analysis of the ratio to personal opinion vs facts as supplied by original source material, you would find it 1 to 9 or so.

    I am sorry that facts tend to get in the way of the desire of the vast majority of hte contributors here to have a free flowing stream of opinion free of any reality.

    In a remark on another thread re: Chris’ remarks on Puffingtonhosts I accused Chris’ of relying on claims deviod of any arguements / facts in his writting. I realize that I am not Chris so I try and supply those with my claims.

    Since I am sure that I am over my 200 word limit and this is over my dozenth post I will impolitly bail out of this one and try another experiment next time – when I post I will use only one post with only the links and one sentence form the source materials. That way, if no one wants to read the material that throws a wet blanket on that show’s entire premise, and throws off all of the other posters’ zeal in participating in a free flowing thread of non-reality based opinion, they can continue.

  • I think a show needs to be done to educate people about Lebanon. Apparently in the US it is seen as a country of nomadic herders or terrorists who can be bombed at will. If you ask around in Europe and Asia, people know Lebanon for its beauty and its cosmopolitan and welcoming culture.

    The question if Israel, security, and palestine is nothing new of course. But Lebanon, especially Beirut, has been working to put civil war and the bombings of the 80’s behind them… this attack cuts them down just when they were beginning to stand again.

    Whatever show you do.. there is a lack of awareness and understanding of what Lebanon… modern Lebanon.. is. Education is necessary.

  • Potter

    I don’t understand the concept of fair here ( Peggy Sue and Sidewalker). Palestinian Arab leaders, of an eventual ( I presume) state of their own, declared a war against Israel from it’s beginning refusing their fair share of the land in 1948. There ensued a series of wars in which they lost every one and yet they and the masses they whipped up and made promises to kept trying to gain back every bit of what they lost through violence and rejection of peace offers.

    Israel is surrounded by countries except for a cold peace with Egypt and a little bit warmer peace with Jordan, that do not want to see Israel on the map, say so, have taught their kids that for generations now. Refugees from 48 and 67 have been kept in camps, waiting to go home again for generations, holding up keys to their homes living in poverty while their leaders rode around in Mercedes cars, dressed in fancy suits, and had homes with fancy plumbing.

    The Palestinians were given a choice last year to start showing that they can be a responsible state living side by side with Israel OR continue the violence. They ( not all to be sure) chose Hamas, they chose violence ( or they chose to go along with that plan). No not all Palestinians. My heart also goes out to those who are caught in this , the good people who want nothing more than to live in peace.

    There was every reason to believe that choice one, the former, would lead to further withdrawals from the West Bank as the climate in Israel was very much in favor of getting out of the occupation business. Olmert has ( or had) a plan. This is painful business for Israel, removing settlements ( regardless of whether they should have been there in the first place).

    When it is said that the Palestinians never miss a chance to miss a chance ( did Abba Eban say that?) this is what is meant.

    Israel is a democracy with many immigrants from the Soviet Union and many Holocaust survivors as well as people who have fled persecution from all over the world. It is very hard for Israeli’s to let go in a situation like this. They will turn against the plans to withdraw further, to allow a Palestinian state, and they now want protection from the very apparent Hizbollah and Hamas run militants states all around.

    It’s hard for people here in the US with a country 3000 miles wide by 1300 miles long to understand the dynamic of a tiny country like Israel, about the size of Massachusetts. The impulse is “the poor Palestinians” And they ARE POOR PALESTINIANS! In every sense. I feel sorry for them. Why, tell me, are some of them jumping up and down handing out candy when they a should know they are going to suffer more? Ditto Shiites of South Lebanon.

    It’s so easy for me to sit here and say Olmert needs to go 180 degrees in the opposite direction. He does. That takes an extraordinary leader totally in charge ( which he is not). But he was headed in that direction. Maybe the evolved Sharon would have acted differently.We will never know.

    As the fire spreads and as we can see the involvement of other countries in this conflict, Israel does not look all that powerful with her call up army, vulnerable borders and towns. Israel does have tremendous firepower and pushed against the wall, and made to feel ( perhaps all to easily) vulnerable, Israel will use it and is. This many feel is vital- to gain deterrence this way.

    At the same time- the United States under Geroge W. Bush has made itself weaker and less of an impartial mediater, less able to do do anything to bring things back to negotiations.

    I am sorry this is long.

  • Potter

    There are so many on both sides who are sick and tired of this. Count me in.

    Dear Brethern, The War With Israel is Over by Youssef Ibrahim

  • Potter

    From The Syrian Thorn by Schmuel Rosner

    (quote)

    ……….as the senior State Department official said: “The United States does not have all that many levers left for influencing the Syrians. We already have imposed nearly every possible sanction on them.” Lacking an international agreement and firm action, or alternatively, a deterrent military action – Israeli, not American – it is difficult to see what will make the Syrians budge.

    Sami Moubayed, a Syrian political analyst, published an article about a month ago in Asia Times in which he revealed, unreservedly, the Syrian position: “Hamas was transformed, in the January 2006 election, from a political burden to a political asset.” Therefore, a card was found for Assad that will prove his importance and power in the Middle Eastern arena. Khaled Meshal, the leader of external Hamas, is a pawn in his hands. If Assad decides to stop supporting him, a senior Israeli source said this week, there aren’t many other countries that will agree to take him in. Perhaps Iran, but that’s not certain. “Assad is watching over Meshal, because Meshal gives him power,” the Israeli source said. If he wants, he lengthens the rope, and if he wants, he shortens it. An annoying situation, of course, for all concerned. The Americans, French and Israelis are angry. The Egyptians, too, are angry, mainly because of the gall involved. While Assad explains to them that he doesn’t have a hand in it, Meshal is negotiating with them about the incident in which supposedly he is not involved. Nevertheless, it is unclear how the problem that Syria poses will be solved. 

Syria is posing a dilemma to Israel that is not simple: How far will it allow him to stretch the rope without reacting in a way that drags the region into a war, the start of which is clear but the ending of which is unknown, since already there have been sporadic, yet ineffective, attacks in the past. This is an especially annoying situation for the United States. Assad is holding up a polished mirror to it, which reflects the limitations of the superpower’s strength and its ineffectiveness in dealing with the Middle Eastern arena that is a ferment of troubles and plots. True, this is a problem, a frustrated American official frankly told an Israeli colleague. “The situation in Iraq is not simple, and we are now trying to enlist the international community to deal with Iran. It’s impossible to do everything all at once.” 


    Therefore, Syria is not only holding up a mirror to the United States, but also teaching a kind of lesson: It is hard to pull a thorn out of your bottom when your hands are busy stemming the bleeding from your head.

    (end quote)

    See also this by Yossi Beilin America’s Weakness

  • Potter, I’ll take my reply to Frapper.

  • “But Lebanon, especially Beirut, has been working to put civil war and the bombings of the 80’s behind them… this attack cuts them down just when they were beginning to stand again.”

    Lebanon can’t have their cake and eat it too. If they want to be respected as a bona fide functioning nation they have to act like one, and that includes not allowing miltary attacks from their territory.

    If a criminal moved into my house and started taking pot-shots at my neighbors but otherwise allowed me to go about my business, what should I do? Shouldn’t I ask him to leave? Shouldn’t I call the police or ask for help evicting him? Instead, what if I invited him to join my family, cooked him meals, etc?

    Lebanon has allowed Hezbollah to participate in their government and they’ve given them free rein to mobilze and train in their country. Any claims of innocence on their part are totally disingenuous. If they claim that they are too weak to evict Hezbollah, where is the evidence that they’ve tried, or that they’ve requested international assistance in doing so?

  • I think I am going crazy .Israel gives back Gaza ,leaveS infrastructures so palestinianS can develop some industry as good will . The Palestinian Start sending more than 500 rockets into israel . Hamas =nazis film a( Palliwood)movie pretending the Israeli kill family on gaza beach . Very well publicized ! Girl very good actress ! Proved later to be false. Hamas (=nazis) kidnap hitchiker and kill him .Goes into Israeli territory.Kill soldiers and kidnap another.Israeli are attacked again in north of israel. Soldiers are killed and more kidnapped . …Now the Israeli are called the agressors?….I THINK I AM GOING CRAZY …UP IS DOWN , DOWN IS UP …THIS WORLD IS BACKWARDS …. WHAT IS WRONG WITH EVERYONE?ITS TIME TO STOP BEING “POLITICALLY CORRECT” BE HONEST AND START TELLING THE TRUTH!!!!!!!!

  • Shaman

    Rachel:

    “I think I am going crazy”

    Don’t go crazy. Your argument is understood by many – maybe the majority.

    You are right that Israeli policies to pull out of those areas should have earned it some political capital with neighbors – in short, Some PEACE. Moderates in arab countries would agree. Instead some Palestinians read the pullouts as ‘victory’ thanks to Hamas bombers and felt emboldened. To the Palestinians they saw the opportunity to continue pushing Israel out of more territory. Sad.

    But Radical Islam is the real problem.

    Radical Islam is repeatedly attacking innocents in India, Spain and Indonesia also and these places have NOTHING to do with Israel. Israel is NOT the only flash point.

    The West has NO good ideas on how to deal with radical islam other than to encourage democracy where possible and wipe out the supporters of radical islam. Nothing has worked – including leaving occupied land as Israel has learned.

    This is creating a confluence of many frightening, unsolvable political problems. And today the Shia/Sunni civil war has opened up a new front in Pakistan also thanks to radical islam.

    This may turn into a world crisis with no end in sight and economic depression where oil goes to $150 a barrel.

    At least I’m not worried about bird flu anymore.

  • Potter,

    I don’t have time right now for the depth this topic deserves but I will start with this… you said:

    “At the same time- the United States under George W. Bush has made itself weaker and less of an impartial mediator”

    When was the United States ever an impartial mediator? The United States has always supported Israel with both money and arms.

    It is often said, and recently said by George Bush, that “Israel has a right to defend itself”. Palestinians however are not granted this right and when they do defend themselves they are labled as terrorists.

    I am not saying that the killing of inocent civilians on either side is justified. I’m just asking for acknoledgment that it is happening on both sides though it is described with different language. When Israelis kill innocent Palestinian civilians it is always “in self defense – and they have the right”. When Palestinians kill they are called “terrorists” – and they therefore have no rights.

  • Shaman said: “But Radical Islam is the real problem.”

    Radical Christianity and radical Judism can be problimatic as well. I’m wondering what the ‘Left Behind, Waiting for the Rapture’ Christians are thinking about all this. I mean, things are getting so hot in the middle east maybe Jesus will pop up again.

  • here is the leading bible verse from the Prophecy Update website.

    (and sorry Rachel if this puts you entierly over the edge)

    http://www.prophecyupdate.com/

    “Behold, I am going to make Jerusalem a cup that causes reeling to all the peoples around; and when the siege is against Jerusalem, it will also be against Judah. “It will come about in that day that I will make Jerusalem a heavy stone for all the peoples; all who lift it will be severely injured And all the nations of the earth will be gathered against it.”

    Zechariah 12:2-3

  • Look more broadly than Israel and Palestine. Aren’t the recent American actions in the Middle East and the Muslim world now reaping its wrath?

    Afganistan with its Taliban learning that roadside bombs and suicide bombers can tie up our stretched thin military. Iraq religious factions know that they can fight each other because their ‘government’ is in the “Green Zone Prison. Iran, under threat of sanctions can provoke war by Israel and divert attention.

    Our American Government, read administration, decries violence but who invaded Iraq crippling the reconstruction of Afganistan. We continue to be involved in the continued violence in Iraq, our inattention has allowed violence to resurge in Afganistan. We support the repressive Saudi monarch, the government that nurtured hatred in the 911 plane crews. Oh yes – North Korea amd Iran atomic bomb building. Now we have so many crises we will not be able to become seriously involved in the Israel/Palestine situation.

    Let us get serious about being the leader of the free world — we have encouraged violence amd terror. Rather than sitting face to face with our adversaries we send in the finest young people we have to kill and be killed. We are good at it, 2,500 of us lost to somewhere between 30,000 and 100,00 of them. This doesn’t address wounded on each side.

    What would you expect as a reaction from them?

    It is about time that America insist that our foreign policy become one of finding ways to live with each other and promote humanity. We can encourage freedom and democracy more by engaging the minds and hearts of the Muslim world than by war and sanctions. No-one loves the outsider who punishes.

    Here is a suggestion. Let’s have universal national service. Everyone upon leaving high school serves America. By lottery some go into the armed services the rest into a Peace Corps or America Corps to work with people worldwide to help lift the poorer to be better off. What an education for our young people! What an education for the rest of the world, they would learn from having us working alongside of them reather than from TV, fast food chains, or from the mouth of our guns.

  • ” Palestinians however are not granted this right and when they do defend themselves they are labled as terrorists.”

    Firing rockets and mortars across the border, or crossing the border to attack Israel are not acts of self defense.

    Anyway, I want to know what it is about MEN!

    Once in awhile you get female suicide bombers but by and large, this stupid, self-destructive mindless violence on all sides is perpetrated by males. Look at Zidane over the weekend – as a result of a verbal insult he committed an act of violence that got him ejected from the game and his team lost. And he STILL thinks he did the “honorable” thing.

    That’s exactly what the Palestinians and Lebanese are doing (and arguably, what the US is doing in Iraq) – driven by some primitive childlike passions they engage in violence that only results in greater damage, losses, and costs to themselves.

    With aplogies to Larry Summers, et al, does anyone doubt that if women were running things in these countries the political and moral calculus about the appropriate use of violence would be different?

    With due respect for the role of religious extremism in fueling violence, I think the REAL fuel of violence is testosterone.

  • ” Everyone upon leaving high school serves America. By lottery some go into the armed services the rest into a Peace Corps or America Corps to work with people worldwide to help lift the poorer to be better off.”

    Very bad idea.

    The basic flaw, as Iraq has shown, is that we CONNOT trust our government with the lives of our young people. What sane, loving parent would hand his or her child over to a government that so carelessly disposes of the flower of our nation’s youth? I came of age during the Vietnam War and now I’m living through the Iraq War. I think the pattern is clear.

  • “We can encourage freedom and democracy more by engaging the minds and hearts of the Muslim world than by war and sanctions”

    What evidence can you offer to support this assertion? I agree that war doesn’t work, but what evidence do you have that freedom and democracy would work? There are many intellectuals around the world who believe that values like freedom, democracy, individualism, etc, are simply peculiar western affectations.

    I can’t disprove them. Just because __I__ value those things why should I assume that others do? That would be rather chauvinistic of me.

    Let’s not impose our values on others. Or, to quote GB Shaw:

    “Pardon him . . . He is a barbarian, and thinks that the customs of his tribe and island are the laws of nature.”

  • loki

    Ich habe genug-what a sad show to follow the heavenly Lorraine Hunt Peterson.

    Whe will the world have enough of the suffering and violence! Ted Koppel,before 9/11,had planned to host Nightline from the warfronts of Africa. Let’s find our way to shake on anothers hand and end the nightmare of War.

  • Potter

    Peggy Sue thanks,

    I have answered you here since my answer is somewhat long and not entirely on this question.

  • Old Nick

    I: Valuable and fascinating analysis today on KCRW’s To The Point, including mention of Iran’s desire (through its proxy Hezbollah) to divert international attention from its nuclear program, disproportionate Israeli reaction on Lebanon due to Olmert’s perceived weakness as PM, and the centrality of the endlessly hemorrhaging Palestinian question even when the fighting moves to Israel’s north.

    http://www.kcrw.com/cgi-bin/db/kcrw.pl?tmplt_type=program&show_code=tp

    Like ROS, To The Point is available as a free podcast (but unlike ROS doesn’t offer a listener’s blog!).

    II: To Brendan’s question in the tease: “…we’re wondering where the US is in all of this. Do we have options? Can we make this better? Do we have the leverage and credibility to step in? Are we ready to? Do we want to?�

    KCRW’s Left, Right, and Center panel discussed some of this today in their first 12 minutes: http://www.kcrw.com/show/lr (This too podcasts.)

    More on US options in the next post…

  • Old Nick

    III: Regarding bicyclemark’s desire for a primer on Lebanon:

    “Lebanon 101�

    (Quote)

    Lebanon and the crisis in the Middle East

    Israel is bombing cities in Lebanon in response to rocket attacks from Hezbollah. The violence in the Middle East is escalating and some fear that Iran and Syria could become involved. Hezbollah guerillas have abducted two Israeli soldiers and have hinted they have powerful long-range rockets. U.S. Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice has asked Israel to “exercise restraint” in its response. Israel says it’s acting in self-defense.What is the history of the conflict between Israel and Hezbollah? What’s the role of the Lebanese government in the current crisis? Is the Middle East headed towards regional war?

    Guests:

    Andy Dwonch is Lebanon country director for Mercy Corps. He lives in Beirut.

    Anthony H. Cordesman is a Middle East expert and holds the Burke Chair in Strategy at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

    (unquote)

    http://www.kuow.org/programs/theconversation.asp

    It podcasts for free like ROS, and after today it will stream as a regular ol’ internet archive in the ‘recent shows’ drop-down box in the lower right-hand portion of the web-page.

    Anthony Cordesman’s segment 15 minutes into the show was as stark as it was revelatory. (ROS might want to book him for the upcoming show.) His analysis was calm and measured, but 35 minutes in, he minced no words answering the host’s question about the US role and options:

    “If Israel overreacts, the United States – because it is Israel’s ally – is seen in the Arab and Islamic world as having backed Israel: as having been the enemy of Moslems and Arabs. And at a time when (the US government is) trying to deal with Iraq, and where we have a crisis with Iran over nuclear weapons, (and while) we’re dealing…with a ‘war’ against neo-Salafi Islamic extremists like al-Quaida, Israel’s (disproportionate) actions have a major penalty for the United States.�

    He went on to say much more about the paucity of US options in this mess. Give it a listen.

    IV: Lastly, and off topic: nother, I have it on good authority that the blogger formerly known as Nikos is quite happy as a reader and modest user of this site. In fact, he’ll tell you all about it here .

    He both recommends and wishes that we all drink waters from the river Lethe: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lethe (thanks to Potter for the link!)

    Quote:

    “Drinking from the river Lethe (‘forgetfulness’ or ‘oblivion’) caused complete forgetfulness. Some ancient Greeks believed that souls were made to drink from the river before being reincarnated, so they would not remember their past lives.�

    Bloggers, it seems to me, can reincarnate like those ancient Greek souls. (As we’ve lately witnessed here, and repeatedly.)

  • nother

    I tend to not involve myself in the discussions of Israel and Palestine because the conversations our so emotionally charged that it doesn’t feel like anyone is listening – only spouting pent up feelings. I only wish we could transfer some of this emotion to issues like Sudan and Burma or even issues like domestic violence.

    I wanted to post something on the leading indicator sports thread the other night but I pulled back because I didn’t want it to come off as trite. Then I thought, a little triteness never hurt anybody. Recently, I was tailgating and have an inspired sports conversation with a very blue-collar guy holding an ice cold Miller High Life in his hand. Out of the nowhere he tells me matter of factly that the same instinct that drives the Red Sox/Yankee rivalry is the same basic instinct that drives the Israeli/Palestine situation. Ridicules, is my first instinct, but after he elaborated I felt he was on to something. Many of my friends are from Ireland so I’m well schooled in the rivalry between Protestants and Catholics. What is this strong basic instinct to have a rival I ask myself? Shiite/Sunni, Protestants/Catholic, Dem/Republican, high school rivalries.

    My point is, my Irish friends have told me that the kids in Northern Ireland are raised to hate one side or the other; it is so easy to do – to hate. When you hate, you find fellow haters, and you find intimacy in the mutual hate. I guess that’s manlier then finding intimacy in mutual love. It’s difficult to question this instinct; to question your gut feeling; to question; to question. “I’m am ashamed to think how easily we capitulate to badges and names, to large societies and dead institutions.� Emerson tells us. I can’t tell you how often I’ve met rabid Red Sox fans who couldn’t tell you if Trot Nixon played Left or Right Field, much less the difference between El Tiante and El Guapo. Most people are simply more interested in picking sides; more interested in following traditions and customs. We must temper these instincts.

    Old man Ralph tells us “It is only as a man puts off all foreign support and stands alone that I see him to be strong and to prevail. He is weaker by every recruit to his banner. Is not a man better than a town?�

    Go Red Sox!

  • zeke317

    HELP! All week I have been trying to recall the source of a quotation which I am convinced I read somewhere. And which, having just watched the movie Munich, has been haunting me. And which seems relevant to the issues of proportionality in the Israeli response to the kidnappings.

    I recall this as having been spoken by some politician. I have put in brackets the parts I am least sure of.

    “I don’t hate [Arafat? The Arabs?] for what they have done to Jews. I hate [him? them?] for what they have [caused us? led us?] to do to ourselves.”

    Am I losing my mind? Or does anyone else know this quotation?

    If no one did say it, someone should have.

  • If no one before you said it, you just did zeke317. Only I would add that they (those who do violent acts) should turn their disgust towards themselves. Blaming others for causing one’s aggression is not that different from directly hating them for their aggression.

  • jdyer

    There are some sane leftists out there, not many but some and they give me hope:

    “The Left should be supporting Israel in this war

    No socialist group in Britain is saying what needs to be said today about the crisis in the Middle East. All the groups on the organised Left are busy denouncing Israel for its “aggression” against Gaza and Lebanon. Many are expressing their solidarity with the Palestinian and Lebanese peoples. None are saying that Israel needs and deserves the support of the Left….”

    Read the rest

    http://www.ericlee.info/2006/07/the_left_should_be_supporting.html

  • jdyer: Israel has the support of the American right which can give them a lot more money and arms than the British left would ever be able to.

  • Both Israeli and Palestinians have a few people who are working for a non-violent solution. Because Israel is the occupying force and has the financial and military might of the United States it may seem as if it would be easier for the Israelis to initiate peaceful solutions but because those in power rarely give it up freely the burden of seeking peaceful means falls to the Palestinians. And they do not seem too interested. I’m wondering what an Islamic Martin Luther King would look like.

    nother: I understand what you mean about people finding intimacy in shared hatred. One summer day in the late 90s I went to Protest a Nazi parade in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho with my Earth First! friends (My sign said “Diversity For All Speciesâ€?). The town was under marshal law and a few of my got arrested – it was thought the jar of peanut butter could have been concealing explosives. Anyway, I spent the afternoon in the cop shop and had the rare opportunity of observing a few Nazi Skinheads at close range (their friend had been arrested for carrying a concealed weapon). Anyway, these guys hated everyone else but they were very tight with each other. It appeared to me that these fellows had probably been outcasts/losers all their lives and had finally found a social unit they could belong to. Unfortunately their sense of belonging seemed to rely on their hatred of anyone not in their group.

    On the other hand I also think that in the case of Britain/Ireland or Israel/Palestine there are some compelling economic injustices that feed the hatred.

  • Potter

    Israel is doing the Lebanese government’s dirty work for it. The majority cannot control Hizbollah as it conducts it’s own foreign policy, pursuing it’s own agenda.

    I’d like to hear a discussion about Syria and Syria’s return to Lebanon and the pipeline between Iran, Syria and Hizbollah to south Lebanon. I wonder if Lebanon will ever belong to the Lebanese people, if they will ever have sovereignty over their country.

    I would like a discussion of how Iran profits ( or does not) from this.

    Hello Nother:

    Someone quoted Rodney King to me re this recently: “Why can’t everybody get along?” ( not Emerson’s eloquence) There is a long history and there is hate and hurt/trauma that passed on down generation to generation. It’s taught and cultivated. It’s not, I think, like a baseball game or a mere baseball rivalry. Maybe superficially it follows the emotions but this conflict is much deeper and thus harder to let go of than a game or a series. The issues regard much deeper aspects of identity, pride, loss, humiliation and connection to tribe, family, the land. Throw in some religion. There is a lot to know and understand.

    It must be bewildering or seem so simply solved minus connection to the emotions and the complexities.

    I suppose everyone should drink from the Lethe, the river of forgetfullness and then take LSD for an out of body experience and the knowledge that we are all one. of the same stuff.

  • jdyer

    “jdyer: Israel has the support of the American right which can give them a lot more money and arms than the British left would ever be able to.”

    That’s not the point, Israel is in this fight alone. Neither the US and certainly not Europe would come to its defense if their backs were against the wall.

    By contrast Lebanon and Hisbsollah have the support of Syrian, Iran and the Arab League.

    Iran has highly trained fighters in Lebanon and Syria has been supplying Hisbollah with arms for years.

    This latest war will clarify the opposing sides. It’s not and it has never been just Israel against the “Palestinians” (that’s been a fiction promulgated by the Arab world) but Israel against the Arab and Muslim worlds.

    The US support amounts to diplomatic help (which is important) and arms assistance, but that is it.

    Ironically, the left got it once upon a time from about the mid forties to the mid sixties, today though the left has bought into the myth of “occupation” and “oppression” as the root cause of the hatred the Arabs have for Israel.

    The fact that the war against Israel was launched from those areas evacuated by the them, shows the hollowness of such views.

  • Jdwyer Thank you for Eric lee ‘s letter , I agree with you they should be supporting Israel. But you know they have been brainwashed by the Propaganda Machine. Just remember who else had a good Propaganda Machine during world war 2….Most people are afraid to speak up ,they think it is not POLITICALLY CORRECT. .They forget this saying:

    First they came for the communists, and I did not speak out–

    because I was not a communist;

    Then they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out–

    because I was not a socialist;

    Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out–

    because I was not a trade unionist;

    Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out–

    because I was not a Jew;

    Then they came for me–

    and there was no one left to speak out for me.

  • Here are just a few samples of what Palestinian Peace Activists are up against…

    Palestinian nonviolent activist profiled by Israeli army

    http://www.palsolidarity.org/main/2006/06/23/musa-detained/

    Israel Kidnaps Non-violent Palestinian Activists

    http://www.palsolidarity.org/main/2006/06/29/israel-kidnaps-yousef/

  • PeggySue says: “Because Israel is the occupying force and has the financial and military might of the United States it may seem as if it would be easier for the Israelis to initiate peaceful solutions but because those in power rarely give it up freely . . . ”

    But Israel DID withdraw from southern Lebanon several years ago. And they freely withdrew from Gaza last year! And what did both of those moves get them? Terrorist attacks from BOTH places they withdrew from!

    Not only that, but the Arabic/Islamic press has been filled with even MORE criticism of Israel for withdrawing unilaterally. Israel occupied both places for their own security, to provide a buffer against attacks, and was heavily criticized for doing so. But events in recent weeks makes that occupation seem downright reasonable.

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  • jdyer

    That’s right Pinelson and Rachel Israel did withdraw from Gaza and Lebanon and is planning on withdrawing from most of the West Bank.

    btw: The ISM isn’t objective on the issue of Israel and has been accused of a continuing anti-Semitic bias against that country.

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  • jdyer

    Some people here may benefit from the workshop:

    http://nyc.indymedia.org/en/2006/07/72966.html

    “OPPOSING ANTISEMITISM: A WORKSHOP FOR ACTIVISTS

    Antiauthoritarians and social justice activists often think they’re immune from racism and prejudice. But many Jewish activists’ experience shows that forms of antisemitism are alive and well in the social justice movement. This not only drives away many Jewish activists, but profoundly affects our work as a movement. This workshop brings together two longtime activists who have studied how the left responds to antisemitism for an evening of instruction and experience-sharing that will help us understand and combat its effects in the activist community. Antisemitism is more than a “prejudice.” It’s a political worldview that can creep into the work of even dedicated fighters against oppression and injustice.”

  • Why does this discussion bring out such a tribe mentality with many of you attacking PeggySue because she upset that so many innocent people are getting killed?

    If Palestine was a State and the Palestinian people moved into Israel and built lots of settlements with no intention of ever leaving. If they controlled the Israeli border and the comings and goings of the Israeli peoples and if they responded against any act of agression with excessive force, I am sure that PeggySue and sidewalker would rail against the Palestinians.

    At least for me it has absolutely nothing to do with ethnicity and everything to do with social justice. Sure the leadership on all sides worsens things and there are radical Islamic groups and Zionist extremists eager to act on hate and kill. But the majority of the people surely just want peace and a better life. It should not be an us against them but an us for all those seeking a better way dicussion.

  • zeke317

    I believe that Henry Seigman, Council on Foreign Relations, has appeared on the show before. His opinion piece does a good job of laying out various approaches to the crisis. His starting point:

    In Lebanon as in Gaza, it is not Israel’s right to protect its civilian population from terrorist aggression that is at issue. It is the way Israel goes about exercising that right.

    Despite bitter lessons from the past, Israel’s political and military leaders remain addicted to the notion that, whatever they have a right to do, they have a right to overdo, to the point where they lose what international support they had when they began their retaliatory measures.

    Here is the link to the piece:

    http://observer.guardian.co.uk/focus/story/0,,1821576,00.html

  • Potter

    I think this topic was meant to be more sober and neutral in it’s analysis. I was looking forward to that. We need some rationality more than emotions right now.

    Here is an article, an analysis, that not only describes the various rockets used by Hezbollah, their ranges, their origins/suppliers/patrons but also the politics of Syria and Iran, their use of Lebanon and the Palestinian cause ( and thus their people) through their manipulations and support of Hezbollah and Hamas. This draws Israel in, and Israel gets the heat, especially for killing innocent civilians as it targets rockets, factories, political offices in residential areas. I read that some homes have roofs that slide back so that rockets can be launched ( southern Lebanon)

    Israel on the other hand cannot allow the status quo ante to return either in southern Lebanon or in Gaza.

    I recommend this whole article, beginning to end.

    At Crossroads, Hezbollah Goes on the Attack

    Sidewalker I address your above comment here

  • jdyer

    “In Lebanon as in Gaza, it is not Israel’s right to protect its civilian population from terrorist aggression that is at issue. It is the way Israel goes about exercising that right.”

    I wuld like to know how Zeke would go about protecting the civilian population of Israel?

    The idea that “Israel has a right to defend itself, BUT…” has become the standard cliceh of those who don’t want israel to defent itself.

  • “But the majority of the people surely just want peace and a better life. ”

    Why “surely” ?

    I think that assumption is one of the biggest mistakes peace activists make. They cling to it religiously and without any hard evidence.

    Humans, by nature, are very bellicose. The invasion of Iraq was supported by an overwhelming majority of Americans (78% in one poll).

    People want security, but they don’t necessarily want peace. How does your thesis that people want peace square with the facts on the ground? During a period when Israel has been WITHDRAWING forces (total withdrawal from Lebanon 2 years ago, total withdrawal from Gaza in the last year, closing settlements on the West Bank this year, they are being attacked bigtime from the places they withdrew from!

  • jdyer

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  • “The idea that ‘Israel has a right to defend itself, BUT…’ has become the standard cliceh of those who don’t want israel to defent itself.”

    Quite so. Yesterday Russian criticized Israel for not showing “balance” in their response.

    What does “balance” have to do with it? By what logic should there be a rule that says if I am attacked with 6 missiles, I’m not allowed to respond with more than 6 missiles? If they kill 8 of my civilians I’m allowed to kill 8 of theirs? This isn’t a game of strip poker.

    War is about achieving certain objectives. Usually the idea is to destroy your enemy’s capacity to wage war, and in modern terms that means destroying the logistical infrastructure your enemy relies on to transport weapons and supplies, and the communications infrastructure he relies on for CC&C. Also, when your enemy is less mobile it makes it easier to isolate and destroy his forces. Israel has to be able to destroy Hezbollah’s inventory of missiles, and its ability to resupply that inventory. This is how war is fought.

    WRT to “balance”, we need to balance our concern for Lebanon’s suffering with due recognition that Lebanon is a democratic country that has allowed Hezbollah to flourish in their midst for years, and that the attacks were launched from Lebanon.

  • “Why does this discussion bring out such a tribe mentality with many of you attacking PeggySue because she upset that so many innocent people are getting killed?â€?

    I don’t think this is a tribe thing. I’m not a member of any of the “tribes” involved in this conflict. If the situation were reversed – say, if Israel had launched unprovoked attacks first across the Lebanese border, I would regard a strong response from Lebanon as approppriate.

    Look, this may be rocket warfare or rocket diplomacy, but it’s NOT rocket science: if country A attacks country B, country B has no right to complain if they are attacked back. If you punch me in the nose and I knock you to the ground, you have very little to complain about.

  • dayan

    Indeed. Israel is entirely justified in its tough response to these attacks, as evidenced by the overwhelming international understanding if not support for Israel’s actions. Even many of the Arab countries are expressing understanding for Israel’s tough response. The fact is, Peggysue, weak doesn’t equal right. Just cause Israel is far stronger than its neighbors, and especially the Palestinians, it doesn’t mean that they are automatically the aggressor in this conflict. In fact, as is clear from their withdrawals they are in fact the far more peace minded and moderate of the warring parties in this conflict. I would really urge you to rethink your blind support for the Palestinians. The fact is that they are only encouraged in their bellicose and intransigent stance by the unwavering support they get from the mindless left in the west.

  • jdyer

    “Quite so. Yesterday Russian criticized Israel for not showing “balanceâ€? in their response.”

    Putin’s search for “balance” is laughable as it comes from a man who has used ten times the force Israel is using in Chechnya.

  • “Look, this may be rocket warfare or rocket diplomacy, but it’s NOT rocket science: if country A attacks country B, country B has no right to complain if they are attacked back. If you punch me in the nose and I knock you to the ground, you have very little to complain about.”

    Sorry, I got my algebra wrong here – should say – if country A attacks country B, country __ A __ has no right to complain if they are attacked back.

  • Shaman

    Potter:

    “I think this topic was meant to be more sober and neutral in it’s analysis.”

    I agree with you. I also think the risks being taken by the leaders of these countries are calculated and designed for the local politics there.

    But America’s role in this is hopelessly insignificant because of the Bush Administration’s framing of the wider conflict as a war against ‘terrorism’.

    Failure to define the conflict properly seems to be at the heart of America’s inability to stop – or even slow – the growth of radical movements like Hezbollah, etc. worldwide.

    “Our role” in this ongoing battle has been shrinking steadily since the Iranian Revolution of 1979.

  • US inlfuence – The UN Security Council just agreed to take up the issue of Iran’s Nuclear Program. I must remind you that this was the US demand all along – last 2 years. This latest action is due to the COMPLETE FAILURE of the EU 3 (GB, Germany, France) in seperate negotiations with Iran.

    Hezballah is a creation / extention of the Iranian Govt. Many, if not all of thier rockects / weapons, are from Iran.

    These are supplied through Syria.

    The US jsut led an effort to get Syria kicked out of Lebanon.

    THere is a UN resolution, 1551 I beleive, that calls for the disarmament / disolution of the armed malita of Hebullah.

    The US has no influence? Iran is reacting to the US inlfuence and the entire world sees it now.

    PS. Poor old chimp boy also jsut got the UN Security Council to unanamously issue a resolution critical of NK.

    Someone please do the research if I am wrong, but I don’t think that the incredibly internationally influencial Clinton adminisration ever got any substantail resolution thru the UN SC with a unanmous vote?

  • “Failure to define the conflict properly seems to be at the heart of America’s inability to stop – or even slow – the growth of radical movements like Hezbollah, etc. worldwide.”

    The conflict is defined by the facts in the UN sponsored Human Developement report above. By and large, the Arab world has no legitimate govts, no legitimate instituions, backwards / broken societies and Isreal, being in the middle, simply shows them what they could be like.

    Hezbollah didn’t “grow” it was created by Iran.

  • US’s Influence?

    G8 calls for “extremists” to end Mideast violence

    Group of Eight leaders on Sunday issued a carefully-crafted statement on the Middle East that blamed extremists for an upsurge in violence and called on Israel to be restrained in responding to attack.

    (WSD – I think that we can see GWB’s influence here. What is says really is that Israel should kill as many Hezbullah terrorists as quickly as possible and minimize damage to democratic govt in Lebanon). Note that it was signed by all G8)

    blamed Lebanon’s Hizbollah and elements in Hamas for starting a crisis that has left dozens dead.

    It described those responsible as “extremists” and called on them to immediately halt their attacks.

    “These extremist elements and those that support them cannot be allowed to plunge the Middle East into chaos,” said the text.

    http://today.reuters.com/news/newsarticle.aspx?type=topNews&storyid=2006-07-16T170451Z_01_L1684083_RTRUKOC_0_US-GROUP-MIDEAST-STATEMENT.xml&src=rss&rpc=22

  • This is an emotional topic, which lets everyone on various sides make their usual arguments (right or wrong). So I’ll try to change the channel a bit by asking a very limited, specific question:

    If someone deems Israel’s response to be not appropriate, what SPECIFICALLY should Israel do when attached by Hezbollah, given that Israel withdrew from Lebanon and had the UN certify that six years ago? And following whatever action you recommend, if the attacks continue, what should Israel do then?

  • “But America’s role in this is hopelessly insignificant because of the Bush Administration’s framing of the wider conflict as a war against ‘terrorism’.”

    Also, Bush, et al, have hopelessly undermined our ability to play a constructive role, thanks to our invasion of Iraq.

    1..One of the strongest moral arguments to be used against groups like Hamas and Hezbollah is based on framing the use of violence to achieve political ends as wrong. But any such argument from the US now comes across as hypocrisy.

    2.. Islamic terrorists have successfully framed their struggle as a battle against the US and Israel, so our incompetence and activities in Iraq and, especially things like Abu Ghraib and Gitmo are wonderful recuiting for Islamic terrorists, which, ends up making Israel’s struggle more difficult. In other words, current US policy helps the terrorists and thus hurts Israel.

    The biggest irony in this whole thing is that America virtually invented marketing. Up until a few years ago all the standard texts and great thinkers on marketing and advertising came from the US. The US is home to Madison Avenue and to Hollywood. It’s incredible that under this Administration we’ve lost the advertising and marketing battle! It’s just as if the terrorists have demonstrated the ability to do barbecues and apple pies better than us!

  • “This latest action is due to the COMPLETE FAILURE of the EU 3 (GB, Germany, France) in seperate negotiations with Iran.”

    But that’s not saying anything – it’s been understood for years that the EU is a complete no-op when it comes to foreign policy (look at Darfur for another example of this)

    “The US jsut led an effort to get Syria kicked out of Lebanon.”

    Again, not saying much considering Syria has a perfectly good proxy in Lebanon in the form of Hezbollah.

    “THere is a UN resolution, 1551 I beleive, that calls for the disarmament / disolution of the armed malita of Hebullah.

    The US has no influence? Iran is reacting to the US inlfuence and the entire world sees it now.

    PS. Poor old chimp boy also jsut got the UN Security Council to unanamously issue a resolution critical of NK.”

    The Administration is trying to have its cake and eat it too, WRT the UN. For years they’ve been painting a (very accurate) picture of the UN as a pointless talking club. So they can’t turn around and try to proclaim some UN resolution they backed as having any significance just because it passed. In fact both resolutions you mention have no teeth or any other real-world significance. Basically a UN resolution and five dollars will get you a cup of coffee at Starbucks.

  • Shaman

    USA has NO influence over the general situation.

    If the US has had any influence over the spread of Islamic radicalism I’d like to know what it is. Oh, sure. A minor statement or position here and there is influenced by the US…

    BUT In every country where islamic extremism has appeared over the last 30 years the Islamic radicals are on a forward march and the movement GROWS:

    Iran, Pakistan, Lebanon…. Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Palestinian lands, Jordan, Iraq, Indonesia, India, France and England to name a few!

    There has been NO change in the general forward march. Even the Taliban are coming back strong in Afghanistan as critics predicted they would over time.

    The USA has had no influence over this continuing creep of radicalism except to inflame it further. From Presidents Jimmy Carter, Reagan and Bush #1, EVERY USA policy has ultimately failed.

    No US policies have worked in 30 years. Serious people must begin to grapple with what that means.

    Appeasing Hezbollah, Hamas and other groups have been tried. Warring against them in horrible battles has been tried. Trying to include them among the political class has been tried.

    Nothing seems to change (or marginalize) these radical, extremist positions and methods — the movement just keeps growing.

    No one has influence. That IS the problem.

  • fiddlesticks

    “No one has influence. That IS the problem.”

    No one had any influence over the Fascists in the 30’s either. That’s why we went to war.

    War as much as we may hate it, is sometime the only way to contain radically violent movements.

  • Potter

    Shaman– you are entirely right. This conflagration is showing alot about the reality of the present situation. Heretofore Israel has been able to prevail. I knew that sooner or later, the longer it took for a settlement of the conflict with Palestinians, the more powerful the extremists would get and that time was not on the side of an equitable, peaceful settlement. The extremists may now have deterrence OR war will be a lot more painful.

    What is scary now is the certain involvement of Iran and Syria, but principallly Iran, a country that seeks to be THE power in the region, and for the completion of a Shiite crescent from the Persian Gulf to the Mediterranean. ( See Vali Nasr’s article in the current Foreign Affairs magazine). It’s about power. Innocents, even your own innocents be damned. They are martyrs for the cause which is much more important. This has all the ingredients of a wider war involving several countries including the US conveniently in the region.

    The US having severely deteriorated it’s influence, it’s “soft power”, having chosen force itself before diplomacy and patience, cannot now urge anyone else to take the route it has not taken itself. In other words, the US under Bush has no influence.

    This actually has the making of a world war, forgive me for saying so. It’s as scary a situation as I can remember. This is an excuse for an invasion of Iran and and attempt at regime change for Syria and all that that will bring if things do not calm down.

    I am hoping that Israel will, after it feels it has done enough damage, call a time out and cool off. But there will be no stopping Israel until the extremists with their longer range rockets (as exhibited) are devastated and pushed further away from the borders.

  • jdyer

    For an excellent round-up of news and bloggers on the war check out:

    http://pajamasmedia.com/

    they have links to other sites and mid east blogs such as:

    http://truthlaidbear.com/mideastcrisis.php

  • “If the US has had any influence over the spread of Islamic radicalism I’d like to know what it is.”

    I already EXPLAINED what it was prior to your post.

    Our influence is chiefly negative – we provide excellent recuiting resources for the terrorists. Our incompetence in Iraq and our mistreatment of prisoners is very good for terrorists propaganda. Our success in turning Iraq into an anarchy provides a perfect environment for terrorists to condusct activities and get plenty of practical experience. Our failure to control the opium trade from Afghanistan means more funds for terrorists. Our successful alienation of whole populations of people all over the world, even among our traditional allies makes it harder to sustain cooperation in our legitimate war on terror. Osama must have a picture of GWB on his cave wall that he kisses every day! He probably has a “Bush/Cheney ’04” bumper sticker on his donkey cart.

  • Potter says “The US having severely deteriorated it’s influence, it’s “soft powerâ€?, having chosen force itself before diplomacy and patience, cannot now urge anyone else to take the route it has not taken itself. In other words, the US under Bush has no influence.”

    I think that you should tell that to the EU 3 (Great Britain, Germany and France), the UN Security Council and finally Iran because it would seem that the Us position has prevailed and “won the day”.

    “Iran Says Western Incentives ‘Acceptable Basis’ For Talks”

    Frustrated world powers agreed Wednesday to send Iran to the U.N. Security Council for possible punishment, saying Tehran had given no sign it would bargain in earnest over its nuclear ambitions.

    http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,203886,00.html

    WSD- I will say it again, with this along with the latest UN Resolution against NK

  • And plnelson, you make the claim “the US is trying ot have it both ways with the UN . . “. You are half right, the US is having it always with the UN, that’s how you win. The UN is a feckless, debauched and decadant org so you get out of it what you can, when you can and the rest of the time you either ignore it or periodically give it a swift kick in the stomach as it lies on the ground squirming.

    And I love how informed you are as you just take what the MSM feed you about Afghanistan and swallow it. Take for instance the latest “statistic” from reports a week or so ago that said that in the last 3 months over 1200 people had been killed in Southern Afhganistan. Sounds bad for us doesn’t it? Well, it just so happens that over 1,000 of those 1200 were Taliban!

    Once again, fighting a war and winning is not losing.

    PS. In the background of all of this other news, one region of Iraq has been completing turned over to Iraqi forces. Another is planned within a month and plans are by the end of the year, over half will be.

  • And I love the philosophy that we are the cause of Radical Islam. That’s saying Summer causes Winter. Anyone who reads the UN Development Reports above can see that the only reason that there is Radical Islam is because of its total lack of Laws, Institutions, Civil Society, Ecomonies etc. and that has been going on since since the mid 1800’s.

    Radical Islam isn’t called “reactionary” because of physics. They are reacting to the West and the US is not only the symbol of the West we epitomize the entire concept. We push the globalization that threatens Radical Islamists ideals.

    So yes, I am sure the Osama loves to get new recruits because they need them – most are dying.

  • And then, I am always how people always get away with making the claim that somehow, the rest of the world isn’t cooperating with the US in the War on Terrorism becuase they no longer like us yet these same people never give any evidence of that “non-cooporation”.

    But there is always lots of evidence that almost everyone is helping. To name a few, German Foriegn Intel worked for US military in Baghdad to help direct fire during the “Shock and Awe” campaign, German intel helped capture a suspected AQ member in Bosnia to Egypt, then I guess all of those secret flights to secret prisons all over Europe were just that – secret (if you beleive that you are a fool), etc etc.

    I also almost forgot about the latest terrorist tracking program the was made impotent after exposure by the NYT – the Swift tracking program. Does anyone think that US Intel assets were getting access to huge amounts of international financial data without the European Govts knowing about it!? The way the normal business / politcs works in Europe all govt officials / business leaders would know about it so that they could ensure they could still hid their bribe taking.

    No, the statement that we have trouble with coopoeration in the WOT is jsut intellectually lazy.

  • “n the last 3 months over 1200 people had been killed in Southern Afhganistan. Sounds bad for us doesn’t it? Well, it just so happens that over 1,000 of those 1200 were Taliban!

    Once again, fighting a war and winning is not losing.”

    Please present your evidence that we’re winning. Having been through the whole Vietnam thing has taught me that body counts are not a reliable metric.

  • It is a reliable metric when coupled with opinion of AQ in Afghani opinion of AQ

    New WPO Poll: Afghan Public Overwhelmingly Rejects al-Qaeda, Taliban

    A new WorldPublicOpinion.org poll of the Afghan public finds an overwhelming majority opposes al-Qaeda and the Taliban, endorses the overthrow of the Taliban and approves of the US military presence in Afghanistan.

    Eighty-one percent of Afghans said they think that al-Qaeda is having a negative influence in the world with just 6% saying that it is having a positive influence. An even higher percentage—90%—said they have an unfavorable view of Osama bin Laden, with 75% saying they have a very unfavorable view. Just 5% said they have a favorable view (2% very favorable). These levels were slightly lower in the country’s war zone, the eastern and south-central part of the country: three in five (60%) in those areas had a very unfavorable view of bin Laden.

    http://65.109.167.118/pipa/articles/home_page/155.php?nid=&id=&pnt=155&lb=hmpg1

  • It’s tough to have an insergency when all your people are getting killed and the locals don’t like you.

    Also, reports from the war when the Taliban were defeated said that maybe 10,000 “true” Taliban exhsited in Afghanistan at the time. So now, with ~ 10% of that number being killed now, it hard to put together a scenario where they can ever be effective.

    Afghanistan is now, effectively the “releif valve” for Pakistan where, when the crazies get riled up they flow over the border to be killed by US / NATO forces. It’s a modern ” balance of power” play for Musharef.

    Pakistan is in more of a danger of AQ and Radical Islam than Afghanistan is.

  • And in regards to whose influencing and who has the upper hand and also the fact of Hezbollah as Syria’s proxy in Lebanon I would propose that Hezbollah, and Syria / Iran as there masters will suffer.

    First, Syria was exactly cooperative when they got kicked out and it almost toppled the Assad govt. Now, Hezbollah will not be inihilated but will be basically removed from the scene in S Leganon. Bush / Condi are “preping the (diplomatic) battle space” while Israel is do that to the actual one.

    Prepping the Battlespace

    By John

    One of the lessons America, and the world, drew from the lightning campaigns of Gulf Wars I & II was the importance of battlesplace preparation. That is, the conditioning of the battlefield’s environment prior to initiating full scale military operations.

    What we are witnessing in southern Lebanon is concurrent with actions designed to prep a battlefield for the insertion of ground forces. So far, Israel has relied on its dominance in sea and air forces to isolate Hezbollah, rather than focusing their brunt of their superior forces on actual enemy positions. By blockading the coast, neutralizing Beruit’s airport, and damaging roads and bridges into and out of Lebanon, the IDF has cut off Hezbollah’s supply routes by land, sea, and air, and blocked all lines of escape.

    Endstate: IDF holds the territory until it is satisfied that the Lebanese Army is A) free from Syrian control and B) capable of holding the southern border on their own.

    http://op-for.com/2006/07/prepping_the_battlespace.html

    Update #2** A reader writes:

    I just read your blogposting “Prepping the Battlespace.”

    I am a faculty member with the US Army Command & General Staff College and your comments are the same ones we have been having with students.

  • Should read “First, Syria was NOT exactly cooperative”

  • Here is an example an example of the MSM CW

    “The Iran Factor

    The new crisis in the Middle East shows how a major consequence of Bush’s disastrous foreign policy has been an emboldened Tehran”

    http://www.time.com/time/columnist/klein/article/0,9565,1214918,00.html

    Unfortunately, it was written before many other events have occurred that make it silly.

    1) Iran’s statements regarding the latest UN Resolution and offers from West regarding “carrots” (As Russia is a main supporter of Iran, this coincides the the G8 and Russia’s current bid to join the WTO. Putin is getting a real taste of what “big boy diplomacy” is like. http://money.cnn.com/2006/07/15/news/international/trade_g8.reut/index.htm.)

    2) The normal support for Iran / Syria from other Muslim / Arab countries is not materializing – “Blame by Some Arab Leaders for Fighters

    BEIRUT, Lebanon, July 16 — With the battle between Israel and the Lebanese militia Hezbollah raging, key Arab governments have taken the rare step of blaming Hezbollah, underscoring in part their growing fear of influence by the group’s main sponsor, Iran.

    Saudi Arabia, with Jordan, Egypt and several Persian Gulf states, chastised Hezbollah for “unexpected, inappropriate and irresponsible acts� at an emergency Arab League summit meeting in Cairo on Saturday.

    It is nearly unheard of for Arab officials to chastise an Arab group engaged in conflict with Israel, especially as images of destruction by Israeli warplanes are beamed into Arab living rooms. Normally under such circumstances, Arabs are not blamed, and condemnations of Israel are routine.

    ““For the first time ever, open criticism was heard from countries like Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Jordan against the unilateral actions carried out by radical organizations, especially Hezbollah of Lebanon,â€?

    http://money.cnn.com/2006/07/15/news/international/trade_g8.reut/index.htm

    WSD – Looks like a home run for Chimpy Boy!

  • And as far as “body counts go” the reason why the US military doesn’t “officially” do them any more isn’t because they are not an effective military metric but because they have a negative connotation with civilians.

    The Tet Offensive (1968)

    “Massacre though it was, casualties were immeasurably higher for the Viet Cong than for the South Vietnamese. Most of local communist agents in the South were exposed in this offensive and were destroyed. Within a month General Westmoreland claimed, correctly, that the Tet Offensive had been a military disaster for the Viet Cong and that their backs were essentially broken. Fighting after this point was left almost entirely to PAVN forces.”

    Although the Communists’ military objectives had not been achieved, the propaganda effect was considerable and had a profound impact on public opinion”.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vietnam_War

    Bodies counts is a good metric, for everyone but the American public.

  • Getting back to the original question…

    “There are a lot of questions here, but we’re wondering where the US is in all of this. Do we have options? Can we make this better? Do we have the leverage and credibility to step in? Are we ready to? Do we want to?”

    What worries me is that our trigger-happy president who has been itching to attack Iran (read Seymour Hersh’s recent articles in the New Yorker) will use this situation as an excuse to do it. Hezbollah may have their own reasons for striking at Israel but I fear our administration will connect it to Iran for their own reasons. Iran has nothing to gain by initiating hostilities with the United States. I fear Bush will use the pretense of defending Israel to initiate hostilities toward Iran.

  • dayan

    I’m not sure attacking Iran would be such a bad thing. It’s pretty clear to me that the situation with Hizbullah now is directly attributable to Iran, since it is widely known that Iran supplies the weapons, training, and cash that allow Hizbullah to operate. Furthermore, does anyone really think that given the above, the fact that Hizbullah chose to open this second front exactly when the G-8 was about to meet is an accident. Now, instead of discussing how to deal with Iran’s nuclear ambition, which would have been the #1 issue, the G-8 is distracted with what’s going on in Lebanon, which is exactly what Iran wanted. So yeah, attacking Iran might not be so bad, because when it comes down to it, if they refuse to give up their nuclear ambitions someone’s going to have to hit them hard.

  • ““Massacre though it was, casualties were immeasurably higher for the Viet Cong than for the South Vietnamese. Most of local communist agents in the South were exposed in this offensive and were destroyed. ”

    I’m not sure why you bothered to quote this, since it illustrates my point exactly. The rhetoric you quoted is exactly the same sort of rhetoric we’re using now in Iraq and Afghanistan – we’re killing more of them than they’re killing of us, we’re destroying their ability to C&C their forces, we’re breaking up their leadership, blah, blah. Do I have to remind you who won the Vietnam War?

  • “I’m not sure attacking Iran would be such a bad thing. ”

    How? With what?

    The US is fully engaged (and then some) in Iraq. And any military expert will tell you that you can’t win a war from the air – you have to put troops on the ground, and Iraq (and Vietnam before it) demonstrated to the whole world that we don’t have a clue how to do that successfully. (I’m not suggesting that anyone else does, either).

    Tossing a few Tomahawk missiles at them, or a few bombings by B-1’s, B-2’s, and some ancient B-52’s, would only amount to a public temper tantrum by “a pitiful, helpless giant”, to use Nixon’s famous phrase. With carefully chosen targets we might set back their nuclear ambitions for a short time, but they’re been carefully hardening their facilities so it’s not even clear that we would accomplish that much. And you can be sure that, like Hezbollah, they’ve taken pains to place their targets in heavily populated areas to maximize civilian casualties fron any such strikes.

    Right now too many people are reacting emotionally – “We have to DO something!”, they whine. “I know – we have lots of bombs and missiles – let’s blow somethung up!” That’s the sort of thinking that got us into Iraq.

    Somwhere else on Open Source I posited that terrorism follows the open source paradigm – it’s distributed, parallal, grass-roots, loosely-organized, motivated by passion, and its leadership exists more to inspire and provide direction than to issue commands. But we are trying to defeat it with a top-down, power-based approach, much the way Microsoft has been trying to defeat Linux. You can draw your own conclusions from that.

  • “the open source paradigm – it’s distributed, parallal, grass-roots, loosely-organized, motivated by passion, and its leadership exists more to inspire and provide direction than to issue commands.”

    This describes the Peace movement too.

  • [quote]“the open source paradigm – it’s distributed, parallal, grass-roots, loosely-organized, motivated by passion, and its leadership exists more to inspire and provide direction than to issue commands.â€?

    This describes the Peace movement too. [/quote]

    Sorry, I left out something important. The open source model WORKS. I think that’s what distiguishes it from the peace movement.

    The peace movement doesn’t work because it’s too laa-dee-daa. It takes more than holding hands and singing Kumbayaa in the basement of some Unitarian church to stop war. It takes a rigorous, scientific understanding of why men commit organized violence in the first place. That simply does not exist. War has happened continuously across all cultures and thoughout recorded history, and there is evidence based on other primate behavior that it predates our species – for example gangs of male chimps attack other groups of chimps, killing or driving off the males and raping the females. We need to understand this tendency of humans, especially groups of males, scientifically.

    And before you try to convince us that peace can be brought about with social justice, economic growth and democracy, I would point out that the US – a wealthy, democratic country – supported the invasion of Iraq with a 78% majority. Also note that Lebanon and the Palestinain territories are democratic, and to a significant extent, so is Iran. And furthermore, that the London bombers and many of the 9/11 attackers did NOT come from refugee camps or grow up under the yoke of oppression.

    The peace movement needs to get its head out of the clouds if it’s going to be effective.

  • Henry

    Hi everyone,

    It was a busy weekend on this thread. It seems like things, though constructive, have sometimes become personal. Please take a look at the commenting guidelines if you are unsure what is expected.

  • Old Nick

    plnelson, I find I agree with many points you make in most of your posts, in this thread and in others. You represent many of my own opinions and/or postulations. I’m one of you grateful readers.

    So please don’t take umbrage with my disagreement with you here:

    “Humans, by nature, are very bellicose.�

    I must point out that this is a highly questionable assertion. It’s an understandable one, however, considering the contemporary popularity of pseudosciences like sociobiology, evolutionary psychology, and behavioral genetics. These theory-challenged disciplines receive funding precisely because they search for ‘inherent biological’ sources for behaviors common in Western culture, just as their grandparent Social Darwinism ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_darwinism ) sought to prove the ‘natural’ propriety of 19th century Europe’s class stratification. In short, these fashionable disciplines purport to search for ‘hard-wired’ justifications for human violence and xenophobia.

    Please see the genetic anthropologist Jonathan Marks’ debunking of the premises underlying the pseudosciences listed above in What It Means to be 98% Chimpanzee – http://www.powells.com/biblio/1-0520240642-0 – especially chapter Six, pages 141-3.

    See also biologist Steven Rose’s Lifelines: Life Beyond the Gene – http://www.powells.com/biblio/66-0099468638-1 , and Alas Poor Darwin: The Case Against Evolutionary Psychology – http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0609605135/ref=ase_darwinanddarwini/102-7917059-6192117?s=books&v=glance&n=283155&tagActionCode=darwinanddarwini .

    All three of these books implicate culture, not nature, as the source of human ‘bellicosity.’ This isn’t too say we’re ‘inherently pacifist’ either: the potential for violence in humans is all-too-obvious. But it’s a wide gulf between ‘potentially violent’ and ‘inherently violent’.

    If humans are bellicose ‘by nature’, how do we explain the Scandinavians? How did such comparatively peaceful peoples descend from the notoriously bloodthirsty Vikings?

    How do we explain the relative pacifism and egalitarianism of innumerable small societies of hunter-gatherers before their disruption by conquerors and conquistadors? The famous peacefulness of many pre-conquest Polynesians?

    Even the renowned military historian John Keegan, in his epic A History Of Warfare, makes the case that for the vast bulk of human pre-history warfare was more ceremonial than lethal. Lethality and its horrifying descendant called ‘total warfare’ evolved only as the human population exploded (over millennia) into increasingly class-stratified societies competing for limited resources. These societies cultivated the human potential for violence, and cultured it into bellicosity.

    The vast majority of my species aren’t ‘naturally bellicose’. Certain cultures are bellicose: cultures that deliberately glorify bellicosity. ‘Macho’ cultures (not limited to Latin America).

    Meanwhile, the largely peaceful cultures that preceded the world’s currently dominant cultures don’t serve as counter-examples precisely because they can’t: they’ve been extinguished or subsumed. If your sample size excludes the hundreds and thousands of the largely pacific hunter-gatherers who preceded ‘civilization’, it might well appear that humans are bellicose. Yet even this appearance is deceptive.

    Because even in our all-conquering American variant of Western culture, the capability to inflict violence isn’t ‘natural’: soldiers must first be mentally and emotionally brutalized (in boot camp) before they can be trusted to kill on order. My own American life has spanned over 25 million minutes. I’ve enacted ‘bellicosity’ exactly twice and both instances spanned less than a minute (if you can call two instances of fisticuffs ‘bellicosity’). Even rounding that up to a full 2 minutes means that ‘bellicosity’ has occurred in my lifetime .00000008 percent of the time. (Not counting my teenage hours having a blast while playing football!)

    If human are ‘naturally bellicose’, how do you explain a world populated largely with people like me?

    Humans are animals capable of violence. But bellicosity is cultural. And cultures that rely on brutalization, forced servitude, and bellicosity usually require ideological justification for these barbarities. Such justification is obvious in, say, German Nazi propaganda. It’s somewhat less obvious in religion – but religion, especially in the past two to three thousand years – has been consistently used to justify aggression and repression. See the Old Testament and the Koran, for but two examples.

    That, however, is a whole ‘nother post. (This one’s already too long.)

    In closing, I agree with your suggestion for a show that asks “Why do humans make war?� – but I expect that so long as the panelists aren’t entirely of the socio-biological stripe (which includes evolutionary psychologists and behavioral geneticists), the answer won’t by physiological, bio-chemical, or genetic.

    It’ll be culture.

  • plneslon wrote “Do I have to remind you who won the Vietnam War?”.

    It seems like you can’t read nor reason. Let me repeat “Within a month General Westmoreland claimed, correctly, that the Tet Offensive had been a military disaster for the Viet Cong and that their backs were essentially broken. Fighting after this point was left almost entirely to PAVN forces.â€?

    The war was won, militarily in 1968. Walter Kronkite, Dan Rather and poeple like you let the North Vietnamese win the war after we withdrew.

    If we had stayed S Vietnam would have been like S Korea is today.

    plnelson – poeple like you are the reason why we “lost” the war.

    That’s why I quoted it. Yo uare factaully wrong about the usefullness of body counts as an indicator of military success and your ignorance about it, and the facts of the Vietnam war is why it is PUBLICALLY used anymore.

    Your CW Bullsh_t about what was, and was not heppening then belongs with Dan “I gradauted from the university of S Vietnam” Rather. Now look where he is. Even his MSM ex-buddies won’t acknowldge his existence.

  • plnelson wrote “The US is fully engaged (and then some) in Iraq. And any military expert will tell you that you can’t win a war from the air – you have to put troops on the ground, and Iraq (and Vietnam before it) demonstrated to the whole world that we don’t have a clue how to do that successfully.”

    Its a US / UN / World backed govt in Iraq. Over 8 million people voted 3 times to get it. Add that to the fact that everyone in Eastern Europe (via the Cold War), everyone in Western Europe and Japan (via WWII and everyone in S Korea owe the same debt to the US everytime they vote, then I would say yeah, the world knows that we don’t have a clue how to do that successfully.

    P.S. If I have written it oncve I’ve written it a million times. Germany’s first elections after WWII were 5 years after the war and the US / Allies hand picked the candidates. The US practically wrote the constitution of Japan and S Korea was a military run govt until 1985.

    Years from now, when poeple make stupid statements like “the world knows that we don’t have a clue to do that successfully” other people wil site Iraq why that is an idiotic statement.

  • plnelson writs “Also note that Lebanon and the Palestinain territories are democratic, and to a significant extent, so is Iran.”

    The last candidates for the last presidential elections in Iran when Ahmadinejad was elected were hand picked by the Mullahs. The reformists / Western leaning candidates were not allowed to run. The same thing happened in the parlimentary elections. I know of no way, to illectually honestly argue that Iran is a democracy unless you also argue the the old USSR was also a democracy.

  • plnelson wrote “And before you try to convince us that peace can be brought about with social justice, economic growth and democracy, I would point out that the US – a wealthy, democratic country – supported the invasion of Iraq with a 78% majority”

    And a majority of Iraqis later voted for the Constitution that was a result of that war.

    Note: Countries with “social justice, economic growth and democracy” very rarely attack others that do.

  • plnelson – here is how the war in Iraq would end if people who think that they know what went on in Vietnam could write the script.

    Vietnam (1969-1974)

    “During this period, the United States conducted a gradual troop withdrawal from Vietnam. ”

    “China and the USSR had been the principal backers of the North Vietnamese army through large amounts of military and financial support. The two communist powers competed with one another to prove “fraternal socialist links” with the communist regime in the North. That support continued, enabling the North Vietnamese to mount a full-scale conventional war against the south, complete with tanks, upgraded jet fighters and a modern fuel pipeline snaking through parts of Laos and North Vietnam to the front, to feed the North Vietnamese invasions in 1972 and 1975″

    “Military writers such as David Palmer (“Summons of the Trumpet”) and Harry Summers (“On Strategy”) detail the massive influx of material to the NVA/PAVN even after Nixon’s diplomatic moves, as well as the continued presence of personnel from other communist countries, including Chinese and Russian troops.”

    “In December 1974, Congress completed passage of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1974, which cut off all military funding to the Saigon government and made unenforceable the peace terms negotiated by Nixon.

    By 1975, the South Vietnamese Army stood alone against the well-organized, highly determined, and foreign-funded North Vietnamese. In contrast to the US cutoff of economic and military aid, China and the Soviet Union stepped up all forms of assistance to North Vietnam.”

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vietnam_War

  • The US didn’t lose the war in Vietnam, the Democrat Congress did.

    To bad I can’t insert a photo here of Congressman Murtha.

  • “There are a lot of questions here, but we’re wondering where the US is in all of this. Do we have options? Can we make this better? Do we have the leverage and credibility to step in? Are we ready to? Do we want to?â€?

    Where is the US? Backing Isreal and using world diplomacy to get most of the world to, in an unprecedented fashion, also back Isreal while it kills as many Hesbollah militants as posssible while trying to minimize the death of Leb civilian.

    We are using our crediblity to keep others from steping in.

  • Old Nick

    Oh, what the hell: in for a dime, in for a dollar. I don’t agree with everything plnelson offers in this thread, but in light of the posts above this one, I agree fully with pl’s analysis in his posts at 8:31 AM and 8:52 AM, July 17th.

    But of course, I’m fully aware that my thinking is fatally hampered by my refusal to subscribe to the Right’s ‘Simon-says’ propaganda mills. 😉

  • Jon

    Shaman’s July 16th, 2006 5:16 pm post is compelling. It almost sounded like a litany of failed attempts to eradicate a lethal virus such as HIV. The spread of extremist Islam with accompanying lethality inflicted upon those who do not share these beliefs brings to mind the fascinating program broadcast on Open Source back on March 23rd, in which Daniel Dennett discussed “mimes” in the context of religious beliefs that seem to replicate powerfully. Perhaps Dennett should be invited back to provide a unique angle on approaches for fighting this mime–as at least a hedge against the other approaches currently being undertaken.

  • nother

    At first I was startled to hear the right characterize this situation in the Middle East as WW III; what a reactionary statement I thought. But it didn’t make any sense to me, many of these guys like Newt Gingritch are not reactionary men, these are men who have thought long and hard about this issues; something else was going on here.

    Now it makes perfect sense to me, if the right can frame this as WW III, that lets them off the hook in Iraq. They want to frame Iraq as a one battle within a larger war with Islam. They have already succeeded in connecting Al Queada to Saddam perception wise, now they want to widen that connection to Iran, Syria, Palestine, and Hezbollah. The farther they can go towards bunching these Muslims together the less Iraq looks like a drastic isolated failure and the more it looks like just one necessary battle in a larger inevitable war.

    I see a funny parallel between the Kim Jong July 4th fireworks and the supposed “shock and awe� of the Iraq War. Both were executed with the intention of flexing muscle and both have fizzled out miserably. More weaknesses have been exposed than strength displayed.

    I look at the pictures of GW at the G8 and I see no humility. He has managed to create a disaster in Iraq, ignore a disaster in New Orleans, and he looks every bit the cowboy and the fraternity bully.

    We hear him tell Blair on the microphone – I might have Kofi go talk to the Syrians – hey, I have an idea, why don’t YOU go talk to the Syrians. Isn’t that what we’re paying you to do?

  • Old Nick

    nother: great analysis.

    Jon’s idea @ 12:28AM July 18th is laudable. I say this despite my increasing astonishment and dismay that Daniel Dennett (and Richard Dawkins) seems to take the “meme = gene� metaphor literally instead of metaphorically (just as he and other reductionists take literally the mechanistic metaphor of evolutionary theory and biology – See biologist Steven Rose’s Lifelines: Life Beyond the Gene for a more eminently more sensible and rational view). Still, the meme = gene metaphor, as Dennett applies it to religion in general and to the Abrahamic faiths specifically, is useful for the purpose Jon proposes. Jon’s comment also dovetails into the remainder of this post.

    Brendan’s question, “Is there anything we can do?� haunts me. Perhaps he didn’t write it to seem plaintive, but that’s how I read it.

    I fear there is very, very little we Americans – or other Westerners – can do. At best, via diplomacy and threats to purse strings, we can attempt to treat symptoms, but not, I think, the true pathogen.

    The Arab-Israeli conflict has clinging to it too much history and hysteria. The “you started it first� cycle of recrimination stretches back not merely year by year or decade by decade but millennium by millennium.

    We can talk until we’re all globally blue in the face about fairness and cruelty, hatred and war-weariness, and land for peace, but no one in the West can grasp – or, more likely, is willing to admit – the centrality of religion. Not for ‘good’, but for its opposite.

    I posited above that humans aren’t innately bellicose but that certain cultures are, and that said cultures use religious scriptures to ideologically condone their applications of cruelty and aggression. Religious chauvinism – not terrorism – is the real pathogen. Terrorism and all the conflict’s other execrable ethnic chauvinisms are merely symptoms.

    Religion is the inadmissible, yet inescapable, elephant in the room.

    So as not to excessively contravene the length-of-posts guideline, the remainder of my argument is here.

  • [This comment has been deleted. Check out the rules, guys.]

  • peggysuus worst nightmare – I wonder if GWB (also known as the “Lion of the Middle East?) attacked and invaded Iran, people there would be spending a year weaving ruggs for him?

    “Afghan spends year making rug for Bush

    MARION, Ill., July 17 (UPI) — An elderly Afghan man spent a year making a rug and an Illinois military reservist is trying to get it to its intended recipient — U.S. President George Bush.

    Lt. Col. Grayson Giles told The Southern newspaper in Illinois that he was given the rug by a Kabul merchant, who was acting as an intermediary for the Hazara man who had made it.

    “I think they were under the mistaken impression that I had all sorts of access to the president, but I told them I would do my best — that I would get it to him one way or another,” Giles said.

    The rug, which mixes Christian and Muslim imagery, shows Bush wearing religious vestments, standing at a podium bearing the Great Seal of the United States and flanked by two U.S. flags. The rug also has a picture of Ahmad Shag Masud, the “lion of Panshir,” a Northern Alliance leader who was assassinated in 2001.

    Giles, the Pulaski County (Ill.) district attorney when he is not in the military, is working with local Republican leaders to try to get the rug to Bush.”

  • “It seems like you can’t read nor reason. Let me repeat “Within a month General Westmoreland claimed, correctly, that the Tet Offensive had been a military disaster for the Viet Cong and that their backs were essentially broken. Fighting after this point was left almost entirely to PAVN forces.â€?

    The war was won, militarily in 1968.”

    That’s pure speculation, and Westmoreland was not excactly a military genius. Real wars are won or lost on the ground, in empirical reality, not in armchair theorizing of what might have happened. By your logic we lost the American Revolution, too, because theoretically the British should have easily been able to mop up Washington’s forces in the fall of 1777.

    “Theoretically” the Iraqi’s should regard their American conquerors as heroes who lifted them out of tryanny. At least that’s what Cheney and Rumsfeld told us. The empirical reality is a little different.

  • “everyone in Western Europe and Japan (via WWII and everyone in S Korea owe the same debt to the US everytime they vote,”

    The difference in those places is that there was no major insurgency resisting us. In the immediate postwar period in German there were a handful of ex-Nazi troublemakers but altogether, in several years, they didn’t cause as much trouble as the insurgents in Iraq do in a single day. And in Japan there were no insurgents resisting us.

    The US has seldom demonstrated the ability to create a stable functioning democracy in the face of stiff resistance and civil disorder. Our first try was the Philippines after the Spanish American War and they have teetered and tottered in and ourt of democracy and coruption ever since. Cuba? Haiti? Vietnam?

  • Back to the original question iof what we can do:

    We can put pressure on the Europeans to stop wringing their hands and actually DO something in Labanon.

    Let’s not forget that Lebanon, as a nation, is a fiction created by the Europeans. It is a region delineated on a map drawn by the European powers over centuries of adventures and imperial conquests beginning with the Crusades and reaching their peak (nadir?) in the 19th century.

    What is the basis of nationhood? A common ethnicity or culture, like France or Japan? A long history as a nation like China or Russia? A shared political vision expressed in a constitution like the United States? Lebanon has none of those. Like several other places, Iraq being a good example, Lebanon is just left-over lines on a map drawn by Europeans. It is not clear to me that either Lebanon or Iraq are viable as nations in the long run.

    Lebanon is a European project and it’s unfinished. The Europeans should create a buffer zone in sothern Lebanon and demilitarize the whole place.

  • Ben

    A cursory check from the Wikipedia entries on 2005 Est. GDP – Per Capita

    Israel $23,416

    Lebanon $5,100

    Jordan $4,800

    Syria $3,500

    W. Bank & Gaza $1,100 (2003 est.)

    Economics seem as much the issue for the western countries to address as anything else rather than allowing media to hype all the radical isms. It’s not as fun to argue about as the social hot buttons, but the wallet generally trumps all else. US foreign aid seems to pretty much follow the order of entries above. I have no clue what to make of it other than the observation. I’d like to know more about why this is the way it is.

    I don’t believe disparity can or should be used as a justification for any of the Belligerents, but it is among the underlying causes of conflict, current and historic.

  • “Economics seem as much the issue for the western countries to address as anything else”

    I’m not sure how rigorous an analysis that is. Poverty is often cited as being at the root of all sorts of problems, but the data is very conflicting. Plenty of countries with per-capita GDP’s far lower than the numbers you cite have lower rates of violence, and less tolerance for terrorism. And plenty of terrorists come from well-to-do backgrounds.

    Furthermore, there’s the problem of separating the chicken from the egg. Israel’s business and political culture and legal system are far more akin to European and US ones than its neighbors, which makes it a vastly better place to invest money or grow a business. Is Lebanon screwed up because it can’t attract FDI, or is the reason it can’t attract FDI because it’s screwed up?

    Look at Iraq – TONS of money has flowed into that place since the invasion and all kinds of infrastructure support. If the Iraqi’s weren’t so busy fighting each other they have enough oil to create a wealthy paradise! Yet I wouldn’t start a hot-dog stand in Iraq right now.

    Maybe this s related the “culture” theme someone here suggested earlier, but people in a country have to WANT to create a successful nation and a bright future for themselves and their kids. I don’t see the evidence in places like Lebanon and Iraq and Syria that the people are willing to prioritize a successful and peaceful future over religious and political extremism. Golda Meir was right. She said “Peace will come when the Arabs love their children more than they hate us”.

    Hezbollah is the largest political party in Lebanon and Hamas won the last election in the Palestinian territories. Both are ideologically and religiously extremist organizations so the fact that the people in those places would endorse them says a lot about their priorities.

  • Old Nick

    The show title above includes the question: “Our Role?�

    KCRW’s To The Point today offered a partial answer:

    http://www.kcrw.com/cgi-bin/db/kcrw.pl?show_code=tp&air_date=7/19/06&tmplt_type=Show

    Don’t let the episode title fool you – the hour’s first half is focused on the war in the Middle East. About 13 minutes in, one guest explains that Israel’s government briefs the US government regularly on the ongoing operation’s goals, and has done so from the operaion’s inception. Our government is ‘in the know’. The implication then is that our government condones current Israeli actions.

    So what I’d like to know is why Bush pays lip service to the Lebanese government even while his administration condones Israeli destruction of the already weak Lebanese army’s infrastructure – and no, I’m not talking about the Hezbollah militia (which I agree deserves a damn good dismantling).

    Why is Israel attacking the only indigenous force in Lebanon that could counterweight Hezbollah?

    How does ‘our role’ in any way ‘support’ the Lebanese government?

    What am I missing here?

  • Ben

    Plnelson, I think you are likely better versed in knowledge of the region than I am. That response kind of relied on assuming the majority of the people of the region desire to be where they are in terms of economy and mobility and that they want instability. That may be true for a few individuals and groups that benefit from misery and color our views of the region via sensationalist newsfeeds. I find it hard to believe the majority of the population chooses pain over progress. That may be naive. Desperation opened doors to widespread totalitarianism, irrational nationalism and xenophobia in the 1920s-30s. There is no reason to think it can’t happen again. Neither side has proven the ability to effectively beat the other into submission; they resort to periodically terrorizing each other’s citizens. What are the alternatives beyond accepting permanent barbarism?

  • jdyer

    From bbc.co.uk

    “Somali Islamist orders ‘holy war’

    A Somali Islamist leader has ordered a “holy war” to drive out Ethiopian troops, after they entered the country to protect the weak interim government.

    “I am calling on the Somali people to wage a holy war against Ethiopians in Somalia,” said Sheikh Hassan Dahir Aweys of the Union of Islamic Courts.”

    I wonder how Ethiopia will fare with all the countries around it being Muslim and many of them controlled by Islamcists?

    This too deserves to be explored.

    Israel isn’t the only anamoly in the region.

  • plnelson writes “That’s pure speculation, and Westmoreland was not excactly a military genius. Real wars are won or lost on the ground, in empirical reality, not in armchair theorizing of what might have happened.”

    plnelson – you wouldn’t know reality form your arse. Instead of your continual stream of consciousness analysis that seems to only impress OldNick why don’t you bring some facts to the table.

    I will say again, the reason I brought up the Vietnam war again, because it is obvious that you simply do not know what you are talking about. The fact that the US was never even close to loosing the ground war argued by poeple who know what they are talking about. So, jsut to shut you up I’ll give one more source and fact so so that you don’t know what you are talking about her and let others surmise what they want to about the rest of your volumous “analysis”.

    “During the 1960’s Giap controlled guerrilla operations against South Vietnam and the United States and planned the Tet Offensive of 1968.

    In his book, Giap clearly indicated that NVA troops were without sufficient supplies, and had been continually defeated time and again.

    By 1968, NVA morale was at it’s lowest point ever. The plans for “Tet” ’68 was their last desperate attempt to achieve a success, in an effort to boost the NVA morale. When it was over, General Giap and the NVA viewed the Tet ’68 offensive as a failure, they were on their knees and had prepared to negotiate a surrender.

    http://www.geocities.com/Pentagon/Camp/7624/Generals/giap.htm

    You said that Westmoreland “wasn’t exactly a miltiary genius”?

    I would suggest that you take a breath, bring a few more facts to the table and maybe you can stop making a fool out of yourself.

  • plnelson – I could supply more references, like Giap’s biography that I read – but couldn’t find online anywhere, but I won’t becuase you can’t supply even one supporting your “analysis”.

    Mnay people can talk a good game using phrases like “wars are won and lost one the ground” as if they know what they are talking about but then use that to veer off into B.S. never-never-land.

    You used the phrase “empiricaly” well, as a former military officer, I gave you some facts that don’t exactly fit your analysis. That is what the proffedsioanl US military from the rest of the world – using facts to win.

    People who thought they new the facts lost the war in Vietnam.

  • Ben – If you want to know the root causes for the lack of economies in the coutries you listed I would suggest that you read the UN Sponsored Human Development Report.

    “How the Arabs Compare

    Arab Human Development Report 2002

    On July 2, 2002, the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) released the Arab Human Development Report 2002. The report, compiled by a “group of distinguished Arab intellectuals” led by Egyptian statistician Nader Fergany, has resonated in the Western and Arab media. With uncommon candor and a battery of statistics, the report tells a sorry story of two decades of failed planning and developmental decline. One inescapable conclusion emerges from its sober pages of tables and charts: the Arab world is in decline, even relative to the developing world.

    he core assumption of the report is that poverty is not merely a matter of income. As Fergany put it: “A person who is not free is poor. A woman who is not empowered is poor. And a person who has no access to knowledge is poor.”[7] By all these criteria, the Arab region—even some of its wealthiest corners—could only be described as impoverished. In line with this approach, the report went beyond the U.N.’s standard Human Development Index (HDI)—an amalgam of four developmental measures[8]—to include other measures of political and social freedom.

    http://www.meforum.org/article/513

  • Brendan asks what the US’s role will be. I guess we know what France’s will be . . .

    “Israel Wants 2-KM Security Zone; France Surrenders On Behalf Of NATO”

    “French President Jacques Chirac said Wednesday that NATO should not lead a proposed international force in Lebanon, saying the alliance is seen in the region as “the armed wing of the West.”

    “Israel has suggested it would prefer a NATO-led coalition in Lebanon, not the traditional UN peacekeeping force that has tried but failed to bring peace to Lebanon over the last three decades. France has said a multinational force should be placed under United Nations authority.”

    http://www.captainsquartersblog.com/mt/archives/007622.php

  • “Sorry, Jacques, but the UN lacks a lot of credibility where it counts: on the ground. Hezbollah learned quickly that the UNIFIL forces would not defend the supposed security zone they were sent to maintain. This war shows how badly Hezbollah infiltrated the area, digging holes for rocket launchers all over the place and holding towns like Maroun al-Ras and Bint Jbeir as command centers. Israel will not agree to a hair of the dog this time, not after the demonstration of strength Hezbollah has shown under UNIFIL’s noses.

    Chirac may worry about NATO being seen as the “armed wing of the West”, but that’s precisely what it is and what it is meant to be. Hezbollah has no respect for the UN, but they may learn some for NATO. Under more competent command and better strength, a NATO-led coalition will respond in force to provocations, a lesson that the Balkans learned, even if NATO had no plan for the future there”

    “Oddly, Chirac never voiced these concerns when the Balkans erupted. His voice was among many who called for NATO intervention even after Russia vetoed any assistance at the UN Security Council. Chirac appreciated the “armed wing of the West” when it suited his purposes,”

    Winston – Now we know why Kerry is so proud of his French heritage!

  • rc21

    Why do people on the left hate Isreal so much? And why do they have so much sympathy for terrorist groups like Hammas and hezbollah. Growing up in the 70s and 80s. I watched the 72 olympic massacre. The various hijackings where cold blooded murder was always present. There was never any question that these terrorists were evil and hated the west and Isreal.

    Now I listen to the media and I hear what is happening on college campuses,and I wonder how did we get to the point where a country who is just trying to survive is now considered evil by the liberal elites, and terror orginzations.who clearly state that they want to wipe out all of Isreal are considered the good guys. Can someone explain this?

  • Ben

    Thanks for the link Winston, interesting. The summary for the 2004 report is here:

    http://www.rbas.undp.org/ahdr_2004/AHDR_2004_Executive_Summary.pdf

    It’s justifiably critical of the behavior of Israel and the US, but reserves most of the vitriol for the Arab governments. Nobody wins unless governments observe laws, starting with their own…

  • rc21, you have it wrong. People are greatly saddened by what they see and of course they feel anger towards the machinery of war and state terroism. But I don’t think they hate the nation of Israel. They do not sympathize with terrorist groups, but with the people of Lebanon and Palestine who are terrorized by the state of Israel. They equally sympathize with Israelis who are terrorized by Hezbollah. Equally, many are angry that the US government promotes more killing. I think right now with all the killing going on it is really hard for people to know who are the “good guys” and they cry for the human condition.

  • It seems that the entire world except the US is either anti-Israel or neutral. The other side has dozens of hard-core supporters. Is it so objectionable that Israel have a single hard-core supporter?

  • jdyer

    rc21

    “Why do people on the left hate Isreal so much? And why do they have so much sympathy for terrorist groups like Hammas and hezbollah. Growing up in the 70s and 80s.”

    There was an antisemitic streak in the left going back to the 19th c. This isn’t the whole story, of course, as there was and is a progressive non antisemitic left.

    However, had the Nazis not perpetrated the crime of genocide against the Jewish people, the Communists would have been recognized earlier on for antisemites they were and are.

  • jdyer

    avecfrites:

    “It seems that the entire world except the US is either anti-Israel or neutral. The other side has dozens of hard-core supporters. Is it so objectionable that Israel have a single hard-core supporter?”

    You are right in the main, though, the governments of Canada and Australia (both under conservative rule) are supporting Israel and GB under Blair is ambivalent.

    I would say that Western Europe in the main is being influenced by the presence of millions of Arabs on its soil.

    I suspect that in the near future that continent will become Juderein as more Jews emigrate to Israel and the US. This is one reason why even the French, who don’t want to lose their Jewish community, have decided to take a “more balanced approach to the conflict” French style which means that they don’t use vituperative language to condemn Israel.

    However, I see on future for the Jewish community on that continent.

  • What I can’t understand is thinking that because one was abused, it is therefore a legitimate excuse (rather than an explanation) for one to then abuse.

    Because a peoples have suffered ethnic and religious hatred and acts of genocide, I don’t see how that excuses their own acts of terrorism.

    Someone please explain the logic.

  • Old Nick

    Regarding ‘Our Role?’

    KCRW’s To The Point today (August 1st) did a lengthy segment on the esteem (or lack thereof) in the Middle East of the US as an ‘honest broker’, and of Condi Rice in particular. You can find this fascinating panel discussion at: http://www.kcrw.com/cgi-bin/db/kcrw.pl?tmplt_type=program&show_code=tp

    “The Israel-Hezbollah Crisis and the Arab World�

    The remainder of the show (excluding its beginning and ending segments on Castro) is every bit as fascinating. And it podcasts.

  • Potter

    Avecfrites- good point. I think the US support, especially in our current incarnation, may not be helping. Actually it may be hurting, Still Israel needs US support, a strong friend, even with it’s downside.

  • jdyer

    “Because a peoples have suffered ethnic and religious hatred and acts of genocide, I don’t see how that excuses their own acts of terrorism.

    Someone please explain the logic.”

    What are you specifically refering too, sidewalker?

  • It has never been more clear to me that the world, all of us cannot condone or tolerate violent actions, by governments, terrorist group, national liberation movements, insurgents of any type for any reason. Fundamentalists or revolutionaries, religious zealots, patriots or fascists are dangerous to the extent that they use violence or advocate the use of violence. Violent people are sociopathic — a danger to all life. Leaders who extort, condone, or aid others in violent actions mislead and are harming us all. We can look back at the history of endless violent attack and violent retribution and see that this method of resolving conflicts is useless. All who wage or support war are corrupted by it and are condemned to lives of fear and guilt. It is contrary to the individual and collective’s best interest to commit violent action in retribution for violence. What is in our best interest is to arrest, try and imprison perpetrators of violent acts. Our collective interest is best served by effective, fair and forceful containment of sociopaths. We need to use our collective creativity to discover successful police techniques to locate, disarm and imprison those found guilty of committing or causing the commission of violent acts. Killing or injuring anyone, whether by intent or by neglect is always a crime in every situation. We can no longer afford this love affair we have had with war and violence. The world is too small, there are too many of us, any hurt hurts us all. The proper response to a violent act is to isolate and surround the individuals responsible, humanely removing them from society. For the protection of all life and the quality of our own, we must make every effort to disarm and capture those individuals responsible for the violent act and to dismantle the economic, political, industrial system which sustained those actions. There are no right sides or wrong sides to any of the religious, political or historical conflicts plaguing life. There is only those who live and those who kill. We all need to unite to isolate violence. We are all in this life together, all life is precious, we must unite against any and all calls to violent actions or policies.

  • silvio.rabioso

    A while ago, Winston said:

    “This is all just the inevitable chaos thsat [sic] happens as world history turns over from one era to another the Arabs, thier [sic] societies and thier [sic] “countries” are just the biggest rubbish pile left to clean up”

    That sounds like a sloppy Hegel taking about World Historical Forces, the Zietgiest and other such words from German philosophy. The problem is the Hegelian tradition—including those thinkers who installed themselves AGAINST Hegel (e.g. Marx)—began their thought from an utterly racist and eurocentric position. They condoned the genocide that occurred in the Americas, labeled non-industrial people as ‘savage’, and were blind to other examples and traditions of society.

    Before we wholeheartedly adopt the predominant form of globalization and export it by force, it would seem advisable to think it through a bit more. Is not the so-called rational faith in the free market (the famous ‘invisible hand’) as the solution to all the worlds problems just as mystical and fundamentalist as radically conservative religion? If we are fighting to replace Islamic fundamentalism or so-called Islamo-fascism (a term I do not find valid) with market fundamentalism, is that worth it? Have we really advanced the cause of human beings? Does a poor wage-slave working at Wal-Mart have more freedom than an unemployed member of a social-service providing Mosque? Before you dismiss these questions out of hand, I would ask that you actually think through your immediate responses.

  • rc21

    I talked with a friend from Ireland the other day. We were discussing terrorism the IRA and the situation over there now. He said the main reason the violence has stopped is because the economy had greatly improved thanks to globalization.

    Many would be terrorists are now to busy working and making money.They dont have the time or desire to go out and blow something up.

    A free and open economy,coupled with a free and democratic government would probably go along way towards ending the violence between Isreal and the Palestinians. Unfortunately the palestinians have been led by totally corrupt leaders,such as Arafat.

    To Silvio ; Your comments about Wal-mart are way off the mark and make no sense. A person who works at walmart is free to quit whenever they like. Wal-marts wages are not slave wages,they pay what the job is worth. Noone is forced to work there.

    I wish you had actually thought through your Wal-mart comment. It seems Wal-mart is the current whipping boy of the left.

  • oystercatcher

    I am an american that does not agree with christian fundamentalism and targeting other countries that are different or even hostile.

    Read “under a sickle moon” for a british view of afghanistan under soviet occupation and then realize that the only difference today is that the usa is bombing subsistence farming villages instead of the soviets.

    Given that our greatest need at this time is a reliable supply of oil, I dont see the benefit of providing support to israel. The whole concept of allies is irrelevant here and we americans need to rethink our relationship in terms that are beneficial to our country rather than israel’s.

    The so called war on terror, war on drugs are actually a war on our freedoms and our future survival. Americans need to reorient their world view to one of peace and survival and the actions of misguided allies be damned.

    Stop manufacturing, selling and thinking that weapons are a solution to any problem.

  • rc21

    To Oystercatcher: So we should throw our support over to the arab countries that want to wipe out Isreal. In doing so we will gain better accsess to there oil.

    You are absolutely right.Plus we will become allies with over a dozen countries and perhaps 200 million plus people. instead of one small country of about 5 million people and no oil.

    Better yet why dont we just go ahead and nuke Isreal ourselves.We can kill 5 million jews in one day. I’m sure that will ingratiate us to the Arab world for the next 50 years. They will probably give us a nice discount on a barrell of oil.

  • oystercatcher

    As my last statement clearly shows, I do not support militarism, religious fanaticism whether, christian, islamic or even jewish, imperialism.

    As a matter of fact our dependence on oil is going to be our undoing financially, environmentally and politically.

    As regards israel the political relationship should be scaled back to one of recognition and trade only. No military assistance at all, and for that matter that should be the case for all other countries whoever they are.

    Ending militarism begins by dismantling offensive war machines and the corporations that profit from their production and use.

  • rc21

    To oystercatcher; I see your point. But we know that when we withdraw all support of Isreal. that countries like Iran,and Syria, will see there chance to wipe Isreal off the map. So since we have this big nuclear arsenal whats the harm in dropping a few on Isreal. It wont cost us a dime.We already have the bombs.The Arab countries will love us and we will have made instant allies.Once this happens we can continue on with your brilliant plan to totally disarm our country,and get rid of the evil milataristic companies like raytheon,Boeing,Electric Boat and many others that are tied in to our evil milatary. Its a win win situation. I bet even Osama Bin Laden will call off his jihad on us. Give this idea some thought I think it could work.

  • oystercatcher

    since you seem to be channeling the thoughts of the middle east

    I suggest you hold a seance with bush and his war-criminal-coconspirators

    for my part you seem to be on the same path as those who preach war and agression.

    Withdrawing from militarism and imperialism is sensible, survival oriented and ethical. Probably just not good for business as usual though.

  • rc21

    Yes but as you stated earlier our greatest need today is a reliable supply of oil having Isreal as an ally only hurts us. Since the greatest threat to our country (actually the only threat) is muslim extremists. Would it not be in our best intrest to eliminate Isreal. Knowing that this is one of the main goals of the Muslim extremists. This would then take us off there things to do and countries to wipe out list. This being done we would then not be under any threat.Our oil supply would be all but guaranteed. We would be seen as heroes in the Arab world and could thus begin the unilateral disarmament of our milatary. I just think it would be good to have Osama Bin Laden on our side before we disband the milatary.Your just counting on his good will.

  • Potter

    Hello Stephen L Harlow– Also I agree with what you are saying basically,you say,

    The proper response to a violent act is to isolate and surround the individuals responsible, humanely removing them from society. For the protection of all life and the quality of our own, we must make every effort to disarm and capture those individuals responsible for the violent act and to dismantle the economic, political, industrial system which sustained those actions. There are no right sides or wrong sides to any of the religious, political or historical conflicts plaguing life

    The problem is using violence to end violence ( once and for all) as the above as rationale often leads to. Also there are wrong sides:aggressors.

    Harlow:

    There is only those who live and those who kill. We all need to unite to isolate violence. We are all in this life together, all life is precious, we must unite against any and all calls to violent actions or policies.

    I think you meant there are only those who want peace and those who want war. Those who live, may live and kill or feel that they have to kill to live.

    —————

    There is, on a previous ROS show thread a discussion of “Islamo-fascism� and there is use of that term here. This is from a recent piece in “the Nation� Magazine by Katha Pollitt, “Wrong War, Wrong Word� ( September 11th 2006)

    “Islamo-fascism” looks like an analytic term, but really it’s an emotional one, intended to get us to think less and fear more. It presents the bewildering politics of the Muslim world as a simple matter of Us versus Them, with war to the end the only answer, as with Hitler. If you doubt that every other British Muslim under the age of 30 is ready to blow himself up for Allah, or that shredding the Constitution is the way to protect ourselves from suicide bombers, if you think that Hamas might be less popular if Palestinians were less miserable, you get cast as Neville Chamberlain, while Bush plays FDR. “Islamo-fascism” rescues the neocons from harsh verdicts on the invasion of Iraq ………As I write the New York Times is carrying a full page “open letter” to Bush from the Al Kharafi Group, the mammoth Kuwaiti construction company, featuring photos of dead and wounded Lebanese civilians. “We think there is a misunderstanding in determining: “‘Who deserves to be accused of being a fascist’!!!!”

    “Islamo-fascism” enrages to no purpose the dwindling number of Muslims who don’t already hate us. At the same time, it clouds with ideology a range of situations–Lebanon, Palestine, airplane and subway bombings, Afghanistan, Iraq–we need to see clearly and distinctly and deal with in a focused way. No wonder the people who brought us the disaster in Iraq are so fond of it.

  • Old Nick

    “Our Role?�

    It’s been said repeatedly this summer by guests on ROS (and many other programs) that the engine stoking the violence in the Muslim world is the unresolved Palestinian crisis – a crisis so long-enduring it hardly seems like a ‘crisis’ any longer to comparatively inattentive folks like Americans. If that’s so (and not merely yet another example of erroneous ‘conventional wisdom’), then this is relevant:

    (begin quote)Sacred values

    If the Middle East peace process is to be salvaged, Israelis and Palestinians must make symbolic concessions. But time is running out.

    By Scott Atran

    (H)amas leader and Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniya seems to understand that to stop his people’s suffering, his government must forsake his party’s all-or-nothing call for Israel’s destruction. “We have no problem with a sovereign Palestinian state over all our lands within the ’67 borders, living in calm, � Haniya told me in his Gaza City office in late June, shortly before it was destroyed in an Israeli missile attack, “but we need the West as a partner to help us through.�(end quote)

    Read the rest at:

    http://www.metransparent.com/texts/scott_atran_sacred_values.htm

    We sure ought to be playing a role; but will any of the neocon policymakers deign to sully themselves with that distasteful business called ‘diplomacy’? Color me skeptical. In Rooseveltian terms (Teddy), they seem to prefer brandishing and utilizing the bully’s ‘big stick’ to talking softly and earnestly. They seem to prefer the machismo of antagonism to the rest of the “First World’s� preference for using violence as a last resort.

    Also, that Atran article dovetails interestingly with this: Hamas Spokesman Blames Palestinians for Gaza Chaos at

    http://www.frappr.com/phpBB2/viewtopic.php?t=530624

    Lastly, the mother-site (provenance) of that Scott Atran article is Middle East Transparent, a bastion of Arab liberalism. Not Islamism or “Islamo-fascism�, but good ol’ secular (mostly) progressivism. Check it out: http://www.metransparent.com/english.html

  • girlsforscience

    In regards to current events covering the newly declassified NIE, what is the Homeland? I don’t understand the reference. I didn’t grow up in the “Homeland” and I still don’t understand why we now reference our country this way. In the declassified NIE, it begins by stating “we judge that al-Qa’ida will continue to pose the greatest threat TO THE HOMELAND and US Interests…”

    This terminology suggest the “father country” with extensions of ourselves elsewhere. When outside of the country, do we truly refer to “the Homeland” or do we refer to ourselves as Americans and “from America”. There is no Homeland in our American Anthem or traditional songs of pride. Why is this reference so popular with the administration and finding its way into government documents and reports? I am not convinced it is appropriate. I do recognize that it represents an ideology. An ideology that sounds empiric and expansionist in nature, similar to a manifest destiny ideal. The Homeland is a recent creation. America is a tradition rooted in our Revolution. Why is no one questioning “the Homeland” and the references it suggests?