Lebanon and on

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If you're trying to make any sense of the fighting in Lebanon, the Washington Post has a roundup of blowhardry, which accompanied Michael Young's chat. View all claims with maximum skepticism and you'll find plenty of interesting bits. A sample:

"[Hizbollah general secretary Hasan] Nasrallah's gamble," as Yoav Appel of the Jerusalem Post called it, is that Israel will exercise have no choice but to but enter into negotiations over a prisoner swap. The Shiite political party and militia says the two Israeli soldiers captured on Wednesday will only be released in exchange for prisoners held in Israeli jails. (Palestinians are seeking the same deal for the release of Cpl. Gilad Shalit, captured by Hamas militants last month.) Whether or not Nasrallah secures an exchange, the attacks on Israel already "boost Hizbullah's popularity throughout the Middle East, especially at a time when the group is under regional and international pressure to disarm."

Nasrallah's standing among Arabs is high because he is seen as a leader who can negotiate with the Jewish state on an equal basis. In 2004, notes Islam Online, he arranged a massive prisoner exchange in which Israel released two high profile Lebanese leaders and 28 other Lebanese detained by the Jewish state, as well as 400 Palestinian prisoners and the bodies of 59 Lebanese fighters. In return, Hezbollah handed over an Israeli businessman lured to Beirut and kidnapped, and caskets containing the bodies of three Israeli soldiers killed in Lebanon.

"Nasrallah will try to be the one responsible for negotiations and will try to combine the two kidnappings into one event," Israeli professor Shaul Mishal told Ynet News. He will "leverage the whole process to improve his standing in the Lebanese political system. Now he seems like the mover and shaker of Tehran and Damascus against Israel, and as a main player regionally, not just against Israel but facing Hamas as well."

Meanwhile, in the Daily Star, Zeina Abu Rizk says something I can get behind: Rafiq Hariri where art thou? The assassinated former prime minister's son Saad Hariri hasn't been much of a force in the current crisis, and while Rizk cites his lack of his father's access to world capitals and regional players, I'd go her a step further and say the father enjoyed that access because he was a great businessman. I've never understood what Saad's political goal is and have believed the best thing he could do for his country is to start an airline to compete with the state-mismanaged Middle East Airlines. I still think that, though Zod only knows when the country will have a functioning airport again.

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  1. Michael Young says Israel ought to cease and desist and let diplomacy take over.

    I guess he failed to note all the UN diplomacy condemning Hizbolla in Lebanon.

    I do agree Syria is the key. Israel should depose Assad.

    The ME is a mess because the peace makers come in before the losing side has lost all hope. Wars end when one side has no further will to fight. That often means utter destruction (see Germany WW1 vs WW2).

    It is time to give war a chance.

  2. Lebanon’s best play at this point is to start pointing fingers towards and putting bullets into as many Hezfolks and Iranian ‘tourists’ as possible and then negotiate not so much a ceasefire with Israel, but merely a redirection of their fire to Damascus.

    Just sayin’.

  3. M. Simon,

    Its good for Israel you don’t work for their military cause they’d be screwed if they got rid of Assad in Syria. I’m sure the Israeli’s would love to see a power vacuum in Syria, that would just serve everyone great — sarcasm intended.

  4. The Lebanese federal government and military is a bit of a joke, and if they started doing that, we might see civil war again in Lebanon, something few in the region have a taste for seeing as how well that last civil war worked out for Lebanon.

  5. It is time to give war a chance.
    Right, because a prolonged occupation of Lebanon worked so well last time.

  6. This is going to be an interesting day. 🙂

  7. spur,

    There already is a power vacuum in Syria.

    It is being filled by Iran. I do not think that is an improvement.

    Mo,

    Who said anything about an occupation?

  8. Simon,

    It was assumed. Going in and breaking something causes more problems down the road than going in and fixing the problems. If you’re going to invade a nation, you may as well do it right.

  9. I don’t know what the right answer is, but there should probably be a limit to the number of rockets falling on your suburbs you are willing to accept. Maybe you just pull out of Gaza and the West Bank, build a nice continuous wall that creates a continuous Palestinian territory, say “we are now dealing with a nation”, and respond to every attack across the wall with aircraft and artillery strikes and no troops.

    Tactically, these guys can only do harm with trucks penetrating the perimeter or by you moving troops into their territory. If you make it a battle of artillery, they can’t win. Collateral damage? You bet.

    It looks like Hamas and Hizbollah enjoy popularity. Hell, they win elections. Fine. That means that the average Joe loses the claim that he has nothing to do with anything. He elected a terrorist organization to run his government. Suffer with them.

  10. Jason Ligon,

    WWII rules of engagement against civilian populations are no longer morally acceptable, and the violate treaties which Israel is probably a signatory to.

  11. Jason,
    Does that mean attack on the American population by Iraqis would be legitimate because we support the current administration? How does what you describe differ?

    Outside the obvious self interest portion, obviously.

  12. PL:

    I know. It is difficult for me to accept that if one side decides barrage civilian targets, the other side just has to hunker down and accept their fate. The framework around deterrence breaks down when you give artillery to people who aren’t wearing uniforms. They are sitting over there launching rockets at you and arguing with a straight face that there is nothing you can do about it.

  13. Mo:

    Certainly, from the perspective of a Baathist, we invaded their territory. I’m sure they would see such an action as entirely legitimate. What checks nations and factions isn’t legitimacy or public approval, it is whether they can get away with something and not suffer too greatly.

    Imagine us lobbing shells into Canada and saying, “Hey, those army folks are wacky, you never know what they will do in their off time. I know we’ve been blowing up stuff every day for 20 years, but you HAVE to believe that they are not acting with our permission. Our political situation just doesn’t allow us to crack down on these criminals. Just keep hunkering down and they’ll get tired after a while.”

  14. Jason,
    I see your point. However, the problem is that every two bit organization that attacks Israel gets lumped into the group. The problem is the security forces don’t have the resources to rein them in and the militants. Plus, the militants want a shooting war. It gets them money and recruits. Attack the militants, leave the civilians alone. It worked for Britain in Northern Ireland.

  15. Mo:

    But I think history has shown that there is no response you can make that will be perceived to be legitimate. If you go in with police, nobody knows anything and you lose some in gun fights. If you go in with troops and set up road blocks, you are dragging people out of their homes and restricting movement and you lose a few in bombings or gun fights. If you occupy, scour, and retreat, you are appeasing your land hungry right wing. How do you just target the militants? Their MO is to look like everyone else and they operate in the midst of a sympathetic majority.

  16. It is time to give war a chance.

    Help me understand–it’s time to give a Lebanese civil war a chance? …it’s time to give an Israeli/Lebanese war a chance? …it’s time to give a United States/Hezbollah war a chance?

    I thought we already tried those experiments. …I remember hearing something about a lot of dead people. …and the emergence of Hezbollah.

  17. I may be suffering from compassion fatigue. I am beginning to think this situation is what the Bush Doctrine of pre-emptive self interest is all about. We should go down to the armament basement, dust off the neutron bombs, load them into B-2s, and drop them on Israel and the surrounding territories. We’ll say, for starters, a thirty mile radius of Jerusalem. Repeat as necessary.

    I shall now don my tin chapeau and await the Godwin Ordnance and other varieties of abuse.

  18. Was Rafiq Harriri really that great a businessman ? My impression is that a lot of his money came through political connections and contacts rather than true business acumen. Then again. maybe thats what is needed to be a successful businessman in the ME.


  19. That means that the average Joe loses the claim that he has nothing to do with anything. He elected a terrorist organization to run his government. Suffer with them.

    You do realize that this is the exact justification that Bin Laden used to extend his attacks from US government and military targets (as most original AQ attacks were) to US civilians — that being democracies, US civilians could be considered responsible for Gov. action ?

  20. US civilians could be considered responsible for Gov. action ?

    Maybe we are. We pay for it, we vote for it. How are we not responsible for it?

    Maybe the only real solution is for everyone to maintain a constant state of shooting and bombing and maiming and killing, all around the world. That way, eventually, everybody gets what’s coming to them, for being involved one way or another, however remotely, in all the killing.

  21. I do agree Syria is the key. Israel should depose Assad.

    How is it that American pro-Israel hawks manage to be more hawkish than Israel itself?

  22. Maybe we are. We pay for it, we vote for it. How are we not responsible for it?

    I pay for most of it reluctantly. I vote against most of it. I denounce most of what the government does as publicly as possible. I’m not responsible for what my government does.

    …but that’s an interesting suggestion, that because countries are democratic, it’s okay to target civilians for what their government does. That gives a new spin to the old anarchist deal, that the people who don’t vote are the only ones who have a right to complain.

  23. Tim, not linking to Zod’s 2008 campaign web site when referring to the majestic one is the best way to find yourself living on the Moon. Living for as long as you can survive on the Moon without a spacesuit, that is.

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