Tinpot Roundup

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Various players in Lebanon opine. No guarantee on factual or grammatical accuracy of translations:

Samir Geagea:

During my trials [in the mid 1990s], I got used to looking at appearances before analyzing the content. Let us agree, first of all, on who can take strategic and tactical decisions? If we are to have hope that we can win this confrontation, the government has to be the one to make decisions. At present, the government doesn't make decisions and the situation is "lax" and no one knows anything because they don't know what will happen at any given moment.

Let us, in the beginning, agree that the government has to decide on behalf of Lebanon and it has to make decisions. No party can negotiate while another maintains a presence on the ground. This is why, in appearance we have not yet fulfilled the conditions of negotiating with the United Nations or other parties.

Hassan Nasrallah:

The course of the battle–I will say how–for example, today, the talk began in Israel, and this is a logical analysis, to the effect that the Israeli military operation has reached its peak. What is more than this? I will answer you. What can the Israelis do more than what they did? What is left is the ground incursion, which is costly at any rate. There is an argument, not among the politicians on the political level, even on the military and security levels there is a real argument on the level of the military and security commands. What is left is the ground incursion. Except the incursion, everything the Israelis could do have done. So, they have reached the peak. Now, they have one of two choices: When they reach the peak they either proceed horizontally, or in other words, continue with the same standard or the dose [preceding word in English] of the peak, or they will begin to decline. So, the military operation will begin to decline and to calm down gradually to pave the way for a political settlement.

Saad Hariri:

We ask the whole world that this Israeli aggression and siege be stopped… A clear Arab position must be issued on this aggression… Israel must understand that Lebanon is not a terrorist state but a country that is struggling [for its rights]. I call on the Lebanese people to remain united and maintain national unity… I am making this tour to halt the Israeli aggression on Lebanon. This aggression is inhuman and is hitting Lebanon with unprecedented brutality.

Samir Franjieh:

Hezbollah took two Israeli prisoners, and the result now is that 3.5 million Lebanese are being held hostage… It's the political path chosen by the Hezbollah and its allies that led to this situation.

Amin Gemayel:

The ship is sinking and all of us, the Lebanese, should stick together and work together to stop the Israeli aggression.

Michel Aoun:

I don't think that Israel has the capability to destroy Hezbollah militarily because Hezbollah is not a group of armed men… Hezbollah is a major part of the Lebanese social fabric.

Nabih Berri:

Israel cannot defeat Lebanon as long as the country clings to its national unity… Israel cannot overcome the resistance, nor can it stand up to the Southern shield unless it succeeds in defeating souls.

Walid Jumblatt:

[A ceasefire must be] within the framework of a resolution that protects Lebanon and does not come at the expense of the state… Southern Lebanon needs international protection and not a [Hezbollah-Israeli] ceasefire at the country's expense… No one can play around with the security of the south and the security of Lebanon… [Iranian president Ahmadinejad] does not care for the Lebanese people… [Bashar Assad and Emile Lahoud hold a] 'vengeful hatred towards the state of independence in Lebanon… [The Syrian regime] is assassinating Rafik Hariri for a second time. We say to this regime that our patience is long, and one day the truth will be revealed…

The war is no longer Lebanon's… It is an Iranian war… Iran is telling the United States: You want to fight me in the Persian Gulf and destroy my nuclear program? I will hit you at home, in Israel… [Hezbollah's] sophisticated arsenal is not there for no reason.

NEXT: Secretary of State Rice, the forlorn hope

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  1. The war is no longer Lebanon’s… It is an Iranian war… Iran is telling the United States: You want to fight me in the Persian Gulf and destroy my nuclear program? I will hit you at home, in Israel… [Hezbollah’s] sophisticated arsenal is not there for no reason.

    I’ve been thinking about this for a while now. If it looks like Israel might succeed in decimating Hezbollah, a big if for sure, then Iran might hope for a ceasefire or it will lose the one thing the US is afraid of when thinking in terms of bombing the crap out of its nuclear installations.

    This may be one reason the Bush administration doesn’t seem enthusiatic about a ceasefire. If Israel can degrade Hezbollah’s capacities enough, then the Bush administration may give itself a green light to go after Iran militarily.

    Just a thought.

  2. Off topic, but is Michael Young doing ok?

  3. “It is an Iranian war… Iran is telling the United States: You want to fight me in the Persian Gulf and destroy my nuclear program? I will hit you at home, in Israel… [Hezbollah’s] sophisticated arsenal is not there for no reason.”

    As an American, Israel is not my home. I am not kosher with financing the IDF to the tune of a billion or so every year. Stop sending the welfare check to the zionists…both sides can get fucked asw far as I am concerned.

  4. Errrr, I basically agree with you-Israel doesn’t even need it, as I’m sure American Jews (such as myself) would continue to send plenty of money.

  5. Aid to Israel is part of the package deal for peace between Egypt and Israel. The other part of the package is an almost-as-large share of aid to Egypt (which is only fair, as Israel gave back the oil fields in the Sinai).

    Cutting off aid to Israel means cutting off aid to Egypt. This would destabilize Mubarak’s government and probably cause the Muslim Brotherhood to come to power. At the very least it would add another conflagration in the region.

    It would be interesting to see what would happen if Jews (not just American ones, of course) and evangelical Christians decided to fund Israel’s defense themselves. I don’t think American Jews by themselves could manage it.

  6. This is off topic, but has anybody been hurt?

  7. “Now, they have one of two choices: When they reach the peak they either proceed horizontally, or in other words, continue with the same standard or the dose [preceding word in English] of the peak, or they will begin to decline. So, the military operation will begin to decline and to calm down gradually to pave the way for a political settlement.”

    —-Hassan Nasrallah

    What political settlement precludes Hezbollah from firing medium range rockets into Haifa or ultimately into targets further south?

  8. Israel was justified in responding to the aggression, but one has to question the wisdom and effectiveness of the response. Given the hostility to Israel’s existence that already exits and the likelihood that groups like Hezbolah will acquire ever more sphisticated long-range weapons, the long-term prospects for Israel’s survival don’t look very good. Too bad Israel wasn’t established in a part of Germany that could have been carved out for it after the war. Who could have objected? Israelis would now be part of the EU.

  9. Uri: “Too bad Israel wasn’t established in a part of Germany that could have been carved out for it after the war. Who could have objected? Israelis would now be part of the EU.”

    I could see the headline, “Israel abandons God’s promised land for better security?”

    Also: During or immediately following Condi’s visit Iran could mobilize and move to the border of Iraq. A US response would be necessary. This would void the time Condi needs to build Arab support against Hezbollah and disrupting forces in the region. Iran is on the offensive.

    Additonally this move would take troops away from their policing/clean-up missions in Iraq and open up the gained ground for a resurgence of bad guys.

  10. Jumblatt is disconcertingly honest and correct. I can’t imagine they’ll let him live much longer.

  11. “following Condi’s visit Iran could mobilize and move to the border of Iraq.”

    This would be a stupid move by Iran. Any buildup of troops on the Iraq border could be destroyed from the air. No need for a large US ground presence. Conventional warfare is a no win situation against the US.

  12. Don:

    The early Zionists even considered Uganda. My point is that the Arabs will never understand why they had to pay for Germany’s crimes. Stealing land is not something new–ask the American Indians–nor are population transfers. But the establishment of Israel in Palestine was unquestionably an afront to Arabs, and there are a billion of them. Maybe the prosperity of market economies and democracy will one day mollify Arab rage, but I wouldn’t count on it.

  13. I too usually find those too rarely reported statements by Jumblatt based on solid ground, goin all the way back to the early 80’s, when he used to sport around on a Norton Commando (Im a biker) But I question the position of another poster here re: results of cutting the huge handouts to Muburak & his secret police & corrupt cronies . The not uncommon position is unless we support corrupt torturers, the wrong people might come to power.
    As far as I can tell, corrupt torturers ARE the wrong people. EVERY time we do this- every goddam time- it blows up in our face. Be it Africa (Mobutu, Savimbi,et al) the Middle East (the “shah”, Arafat, et al) or Latin America
    (Samoza, et al, et al, et al) The reason always given is that we citizens need to jam some thug or oligarchy down peoples throats….or (cue creepy music) the fill in the blank will take over. .whats left out is that its profitable, for a very small few. And hell for everyone else. And would have the founders reaching for thier rifles…..

  14. My point is that the Arabs will never understand why they had to pay for Germany’s crimes.

    Me neither, but it does a disservice to the history of Zionism to characterize it this way. Even in Hertzl’s time, the Palestine-v.-Uganda argument had been settled in favor of Palestine. You just couldn’t get enough people motivated for a Jewish state established anywhere except Palestine, and the international process of fundraising and immigration was already well under way even before World War I. Even in Ulysses there’s a passage where Bloom realizes his butcher is a fellow MOTT because he’s got a stack of invest-in-Netaim flyers he’s using to wrap the cuts of meat. Tom Segev’s great history of the British mandate One Palestine Complete makes it clear how vigorous the process was in the period between the wars (and how generally favorable the British government was to the project). Post-Holocaust sympathy certainly had an effect on the decisive pro-Israel vote in the United Nations, but by that point there was just no possibility of founding Israel in Germany. (It is a tantalizing thought though: Given the combined US-USSR support for the creation of Israel, it could have been forced on the krauts.)

  15. I realize that founding Israel on a chunk of Germany was never in the cards; it was an if-only thought. Thinking about Israel’s long-term prospects in an Arab sea brings me to dispair and flights of fancy It has also occurred to me that gathering all the Jews in the world onto a single piece of land is an anti-Semite’s dream–an easy target. Thank G-d, many of us still live in NY.

  16. Thinking about Israel’s long-term prospects in an Arab sea brings me to dispair and flights of fancy

    It was the lack of long-term prospects in a European sea that drove the Israelis to set sail for an Arab sea. And as Rupert Pupkin says, now look where we are.

  17. If it looks like Israel might succeed in decimating Hezbollah, a big if for sure, then Iran might hope for a ceasefire or it will lose the one thing the US is afraid of when thinking in terms of bombing the crap out of its nuclear installations.

    My guess is that even before the current violence, the US was more worried about the problems Iran could cause in Iraq, and the disruptions it could cause to oil supplies flowing out of the Persian Gulf. None of that’s changed.

    That said, it does look like Hizbollah’s shot much of its Katyusha wad for the time being, and while a number of Israelis have been killed and wounded by the rocket attacks, the carnage appears to be noticeably less than what a lot of forecasters were expecting in such a scenario. That by itself might weaken Hizbollah and Iran’s strategic position relative to Israel once a cease-fire takes hold, even if it’s assumed that the Katyusha arsenal will gradually be rebuilt.

  18. “following Condi’s visit Iran could mobilize and move to the border of Iraq.”

    This would be a stupid move by Iran. Any buildup of troops on the Iraq border could be destroyed from the air. No need for a large US ground presence. Conventional warfare is a no win situation against the US.

    Oh, if Iran only did us the favor of sending a massive column of troops into Iraq. With the upgraded cluster bombs, we’d totally annihilate them. We may suck at occupations (since WWII–now we never have enough troops), but are still very good at “conventional” destruction.

  19. Well, Jews have done pretty well in North America. Maybe the mistake was buying into European nationalism and the whole idea of an ethno-religious state. How has having our own state normalized anything?

  20. How has having our own state normalized anything?

    It’s given Jews around the world-or at least in much of the world-a strong position from which to negotiate with the rest of the world. And negotiating with the rest of the world is what human beings are supposed to do. Whether the negotiating is supposed to be as collective as it’s turned out to be is another story, but if you’re looking to crack the monument of Israel as the last, best hope of Jewry, you’ve got your work cut out for you. Since you mention North America, it’s worth noting that many Jews throughout North America are happy to pay top dollar to keep pro-Israel organizations flowering. They apparently see some value in maintaining the state even if they don’t live in it.

  21. Adam W:

    I’m sure American Jews (such as myself) would continue to send plenty of money.

    And that’s the way it should be. As opposed to government aid; when American Jews (and other nationalities and religions as well) send money to Israel, there are two beneficial dynamics that go on. One is that the Israeli government gets a smaller portion of the take. Two is that there is more accountability with this voluntary patronage. For example, without US tax money coming in, the Israeli government would have to deal with foreign Jews and other contributors who like Israel but not the government’s occupation of Palestine.

    The dynamic of accountability is one of the reasons that capitalism works so well.

  22. Mark Borok:

    Cutting off aid to Israel means cutting off aid to Egypt. This would destabilize Mubarak’s government and probably cause the Muslim Brotherhood to come to power.

    I’m not sure that if by law we would have to cut off the Egyptian government from our tax money if we cut off the Israeli government. But if so, this would be a double blessing. Better to have a thug regime in Egypt that isn’t getting US tax dollars than one that is. Also, even if your prediction of resultant instability is right, remember that the current thugs in charge of Egypt also repress more liberty oriented groups as well, not just the Muslim Brotherhood types. So it’s not clear at all that the Muslim Brotherhood would gain ascendancy.

  23. Mr. Barton,

    Are you in any way receptive to the suggestion that the interests of the United States (as opposed to the motives) and the interests of Israel may be one and the same in this particular instance?

    I opposed sending American troops to Iraq. I didn’t see any reason not to buy the Powell speech at the UN, but Iraq still didn’t seem to represent a sufficient terrorist threat to the American people in my book, at least not sufficient to justify the expected costs in treasure and lives and wounded, etc. when compared to the status quo.

    The civilian costs in Lebanon could be as high and as terrible as they were in Iraq. And there’s an open question in my mind as to how much of a threat Hezbollah poses to the American people.

    …but there’s no question that terrorism is at work here. …and we’re not talking about sending American troops with an occupation to follow justified by some pie-in-the-sky, democracy is a benign virus theory. We’re talking about writing a check.

  24. Uri ben Tzvi:

    Well, Jews have done pretty well in North America. Maybe the mistake was buying into European nationalism and the whole idea of an ethno-religious state. How has having our own state normalized anything?

    Good point. And it engenders a proposal. Where as the US government has paid for the Israeli government’s brutal occupation of Palestine; as part of ending that occupation, I propose that US citizenship be offered to all Israeli civilians who are currently resident in occupied Palestine upon their moving from there to here. To be fair, the same deal should be offered to a like number of Palestinians who have been displaced in the occupation. I would add a proviso of ineligibility of our new citizens to avail themselves of our idiot welfare state for five years.

    Now I realize that some of the Israelis who are residents of occupied Palestine are just the type of folks who are not going to want separate themselves from an Israeli identity and Israeli purview. In fact, some of those folks are expatriate Americans. But what the Hell; I think that a lot if not most of em would dig the deal. I also think that we would have no trouble finding Palestinian takers.

    BTW, I was out in LA not to long ago and visited the funky shops on Melrose, not far from the Farmers Market area. It seems that lots of em are owned by Israeli immigrants and some of em are owned by Palestinian immigrants. Folks from both groups told me that the two get along fine in LA. Well, I know that in America, internally, it doesn’t matter too much what ethnic group controls the government. The Israeli government is quite unpopular among the folks that I spoke with. One Israeli gal, while regaling me with stories of how well the two immigrant groups get along in LA, said “I love my old country but the government sucks” I told her that I thought that it was cuz of individual liberty and limited government in America that both groups can get along so nicely here. I got kinda misty talking to her.

  25. Those who call for an end all American aid to Israel really want Israel’s destruction. Americans haven’t been tricked into supporting Israel. Most Americans sympathize with both Israel and the Jews. That and the fact that American policy makers see Israel as a strategic asset are the reasons that Israel gets the support. If those reasons disappear, American Jewish loyalty to Israel will not make things comfortable for American Jews. The conspiracy theories are intended to get the process started. If you can get Americans to blame Israel (and by extension Israel’s Jewish supporters)–not simply the bad choices of an American administration–for the deteriorating mess in Iraq, you can plant the seeds of a future disaffection. Scapegoating Jews has a long pedigree. Israel is the perfect international scapegoat.

  26. The enemy of my…my friend’s enemies’ enemy…no, wait…of my enemy’s friend’s friends…aw, fuck it.

    I’d rather suspect myself from fishhooks than attempt to negotiate Lebanses politics.

  27. “I told her that I thought that it was cuz of individual liberty and limited government in America that both groups can get along so nicely here.”

    Limited government? You’re kidding. Have you any idea how much our “limited” government is spending in Iraq?

  28. Ken Shultz,

    I believe that the interests of the United States can be the same as the interests of Israel, such as they were in the fight against Soviet imperialism. But with regard to Hizbollah and the Israeli government’s incursion into Lebanon, I think that they are not. Certainly not to the extent of justifying us being forced to pay for any of Israel?s expenses in the conflict.

    The fact that a group uses terror (actually, governments are the worst offenders) should not be a sufficient justification for our government to aggress against them. The group must constitute a real threat to American?s liberty or security. When Hizbollah attacked our troops in Lebanon in 82′, our troops were intervening where they shouldn’t have been. There was no threat against us that they were protecting against.

    Hizbollah is a threat to Israel, but not us. (Not that this stops Netyinyahu (sp?) from lying thru his teeth to the contrary. I caught him on TV this morning.) It seems that our government’s intervention in the Lebanon tragedy will serve to again make us likely targets of those who resent it, as it did with 9/11. So, it is in our interest for our government to get out of the mess and not, yet again, be the Israeli government’s faithful servant.

    (BTW, on the “Terror is the enemy” theme, note that the Israeli government supports terrorist type attacks against the military in Iran by Kurdish groups. (Although I don’t count em as terrorism cuz the Iranian military are not civilians)

  29. How can anybody who consistently writes “cuz” instead of “because” be taken seriously? I keep imagining that some fucking seventeen-year-old with an earing in his tongue is writing this shit. But no seveteen-year-old could spout such egregious drivel in that pontificating tone. Jesus, write it out.

  30. I met Rick once at a function. Believe me when I say he’s not 17.

  31. When Hizbollah attacked our troops in Lebanon in 82′, our troops were intervening where they shouldn’t have been. There was no threat against us that they were protecting against.

    My understanding is that we (as in a Multinational Force) were protecting Beirut from Israel as the PLO withdrew. …and I’m not sure it was Hezbollah, as presently constituted, that murdered our troops. My understanding is that elements of what became Hezbollah were responsible. Regardless, I’m not aware of Hezbollah specifically targeting Americans since then. …but I am very interested in determining the extent to which Hezbollah presents a threat to the American people–both long and short term.

    In the short term, if Hezbollah, working in collaboration with Iran, presented a clear and present threat, shouldn’t we invade? I think so, and I bet you’d agree.

    Hizbollah is a threat to Israel, but not us.

    I want to believe that. However, even if it’s not the case that Hezbollah presents a clear and present threat now, but it still presents a long term theat, how should we meet that threat?

    …given things as they are.

    I guess I’m just not convinced that Iran and Hezbollah would no longer be a long term threat to the American people if the United States just withdrew our support from Israel.

  32. Uri ben Tzvi:

    Those who call for an end all American aid to Israel really want Israel’s destruction.

    What?? If you’re talking American government aid, and I assume you are; then you’re contending that the vast number of libertarians really want Israel’s destruction. That’s not true. BTW, this libertarian thinks that there’s lots of stuff to like and admire about the Israeli people. (not the government) For example, Israel has more companies on the Nasdaq than any other nation except for the US.

    Sorry, but your name for THIS post should be Uri ben Silly. Quite silly. (I like other stuff that you?ve written)

    Americans haven’t been tricked into supporting Israel.

    Tricked? You aren’t contending that the effects of the Israeli lobby are benign, are you? Cuz that’s certainly not where the evidence points.

    Most Americans sympathize with both Israel and the Jews.

    Just listen to yourself: “the Jews”, as if Jews should be looked at as a collective. You sound like an anti-Semite. This debate is not about “the Jews”. It’s about governments and supporters.

    The conspiracy theories are intended to get the process started. If you can get Americans to blame Israel (and by extension Israel’s Jewish supporters…for the deteriorating mess in Iraq, you can plant the seeds of a future disaffection.

    Uri, I believe that conspiracies in politics happen all the time. It’s just common sense. But listen to what you’re doing. You’re attributing this conspiracy analysis to a conspiracy in itself! I don’t see the evidence of forethought to justify that to any significant degree.

    Scapegoating Jews has a long pedigree. Israel is the perfect international scapegoat.L

    First of all, the Israeli government is not just a “scapegoat”. They really do do some terrible things. Also, I know that some criticism of the Israeli government is racially motivated. But not all, and especially not around these parts.

    I understand that you’re sensitive to anti-Semitism. But that gives you no call to attribute all criticism of the Israeli government and its supporters to that racism.

  33. The enemy of my…my friend’s enemies’ enemy…no, wait…of my enemy’s friend’s friends…aw, fuck it.

    LOL!

  34. Bob:

    Limited government? You’re kidding. Have you any idea how much our “limited” government is spending in Iraq?

    I was speaking of limited government and individual liberty vis a vis domestic politics.

  35. How can anybody who consistently writes “cuz” instead of “because” be taken seriously?

    I thought that perhaps one day some small mind would take umbrage at “cuz”. So you don’t think it’s charming counter-point to my robust articulation?

    What the Hell can it possibly matter?

  36. I met Rick once at a function. Believe me when I say he’s not 17.

    Yeah, cuz I’m 23…would you believe 33? 43? Anyway, most folks think I look bitchen younger than I am…or they just tell me that cuz they wanna be nice…I have been taking lotsa anti-oxidants since before it was cool?

    Jack, did we meet at the H&R event at Rock Bottom?

  37. …Shoulda been: “I have been taking lotsa anti-oxidants since before it was cool.”

    (No ?)

  38. I’m not sure it was Hezbollah, as presently constituted, that murdered our troops.

    It was indeed Hezballah that killed 241 Marines and 58 French peacekeepers. It was Hezballah operatives who murdered SW2 Robert Stethem on board a hijacked airliner in 1985.

  39. “First of all, the Israeli government is not just a “scapegoat”. They [sic]really do do some terrible things.”

    So when is the Israeli government a scapegoat? Name a government (country, religious body, tribe) that hasn’t done some terrible things.

  40. Ken,

    My understanding is that they were there to create a buffer zone to protect Israel, and that Hizbollah (or the proto-Hizbollah) became quite popular in Lebanon when they drove the Israeli military out.

    Yes, if Hezbollah, working in collaboration with Iran, ever did present a clear and present threat to us, I agree that our military should take action.

    if it’s not the case that Hezbollah presents a clear and present threat now, but it still presents a long term theat, how should we meet that threat?

    By monitoring the situation so as to develop interdiction strategies and making it clear to the leaders that any attack will be met with crushing force that targets them personally.

    I guess I’m just not convinced that Iran and Hezbollah would no longer be a long term threat to the American people if the United States just withdrew our support from Israel.

    But don’t you, at least, think that our government’s intervention in support of the Israeli government makes it far more likely that Iran and Hizbollah will become real threats to us?

  41. So when is the Israeli government a scapegoat?

    It was Uri who was contending that.

  42. I sincerely hope that when the IDF captures Nasrallah, they string him up by his turban.

    -jcr

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