Build up in Lebanon

Golan "There’s not much doubt about who is behind the military buildup, not to mention the growing violence in Lebanon itself. According to the secretary general’s report, "it is widely believed in Lebanon, including by the government, that the strengthening of [Palestinian] outposts could not have taken place without the tacit knowledge and support of the Syrian government." It notes Israel’s claim that "the transfer of sophisticated weaponry by Syria and Iran across the Lebanese-Syrian border, including long-range rockets (with a range of 250 miles) . . . [and] anti-tank and anti-aircraft systems, occurs on a weekly basis." And it says, "Hezbollah armed elements are alleged to be constructing new facilities in the Bekaa valley, including command and control centers, rocket launching capabilities and conducting military training exercises."

When Resolution 1701 was adopted, Israel urged the Security Council to deploy international forces or monitors along the Lebanese-Syrian border to prevent such weapons deliveries. Intimidated by threats of attacks on U.N. troops, the council refused."  WAPO Editorial


It was never going to happen that UN forces were going to be deployed along the Syrian-Lebanese border.  The UN correctly understood that such a deployment would require it to fight to stop infiltration (not just monitor)while deployed along a front of a couple of hundred miles, facing east in country in which their forces would have had no secure rear at all.  Once again, logistics rules, and UN commanders would have had no secure line of communications to the sea if they had done what all the diplomatic people wanted them to do.

"anti-tank and anti-aircraft systems" The Hizbullah Lebanese are preparing for renewal of their war with Israel.  They are building new fortified "belts" and "stand alone" fortified zones.  The "anti-aircraft equipment" is going to make a big difference this time.  Israeli pilots are not used to being shot at from the ground while trying to attack targets.  Pilots’ aim is not as good under those conditions.  Ask a pilot if that is not true.

What are they doing in the Bekaa Valley?  Among other things they are training for how they will fight this time.  I presume that someone is watching this?

What are the Israelis doing?  They are preparing for a drive into Syria across the Golan heights, a "decisive" battle with the Syrians between there and Damascus and then a left "hook" into Lebanon to execute a "turning movement" against Hizbullah.

Will that coincide with American action against Iran?  Someone should ask the Chenians that. pl

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56 Responses to Build up in Lebanon

  1. Babak Makkinejad says:

    It is called “Escalation to No-where” – Sharon excelled in that.

  2. Mo says:

    I suppose there are 2 parts to this, the report and the analysis.
    The editorial is a mish mash of the factually incorrect (8 Israelis killed in the initail raid), half-truths (the resolution mandated the disarmament of Hizballah) and one sided-observations (no mention of Israel’s responsibilities to respect Lebanons sovreignty).
    Theres not much doubt about who’s behind the military build up? I guess the writer has far better sources than the rest of us. The only evidence of Syrias involvement in the arming of the Palestinian groups is “thats what they do”. Meanwhile, Hariris aunt providing money to them in Sidon is common knowledge and whatever happened to that boat load of arms off loaded in the port of Jounieh last year? And if all these guys came from Syria, how is it that the entry records of so many of them appear at the airport?
    As for Hizballah, of course there are more arms coming and yes across the border from Syria is the easiest route;
    On the other hand I have reports that the US is still smuggling arms to Israel via the mediterranean.
    In analysis, the Colonel is absolutely right, UN observation of the border was never going to happen. And to be frank, in addition to the reasons mentioned, I doubt it would make a difference unless the UN also took control of customs duties. With the amount of sattelites in space the US and Israel have between them and the number of overflights the Israelis are conducting is there really any need for actual boots on the ground in a very hostile environment?
    If the anti-aircraft weaponry is correct, that would be very good news for Lebanon. It was only the airborne pummeling that convinced Nasrallah to accept a ceasefire. I don’t know how pertinent it is, but Nasrallah did promise last year that this was the last time a Lebanese-Israeli battle would take place soley on Lebanese soil.
    However, the description of the fortifications and bunkers does tend to show a building of a defensive rather than offensive capability.
    Colonel, do you believe this drive into Syria is a done deal? Will they wait for a “existential threat” to materialise or just go ahead and attack? And is Hizballah’s building of these fortifications so far North indicative that they arleady knew that this would be Israels next move?

  3. Abu Sinan says:

    Good luck. I am sure the Israelis will cut through Syria like a hot knife though butter, but will be unable to keep the momentum in Lebanon.
    Hizb’Allah will tear them up again.

  4. W. Patrick Lang says:

    They are going to wait for a “Danzig” moment. pl

  5. Montag says:

    By this reasoning Hitler was justified in invading France because they had constructed the Maginot Line to prevent a German invasion! I read somewhere that the Syrians are training special battalions in the Hezbollah-type warfare.
    At least the Japanese learned from whippings in the border fights with the Red Army in 1938-39. The result was a non-aggression pact which they scrupulously kept throughout WWII. Of course it helped that both the Soviet Union and Japan had bigger fish to fry at the time.

  6. W. Patrick Lang says:

    There is no “Hizbullah style of warfare.” They fuoght a conventional battle against the Israelis.
    “Special battalions” won’t do it. you need a big force. pl

  7. zanzibar says:

    Just what the world needs more wars and more killing! Its incredible that Cheney and the “new and revamped” IDF want another war in the Levant – like the last one solved anything.
    At this point the only thing that has any chance of slowing down the absolutely corrupt Cheney/Bush administration is the House filing articles of impeachment against Cheney and starting the impeachment investigation with no executive privilege as well as defunding OVP. Not that it will do much since Cheney and Bush are completely shameless however it may at least keep these guys distracted.

  8. David W says:

    The article is a seed, designed to plant future Beltway ‘conventional wisdom’ that will be spread via network news and the Sunday talk shows.
    Are Syria and Hizbullah really an existential threat to Israel? Are you all getting tired of all the ‘existential threats’ there are these days? It’s especially Orwellian given that Israel is the only regional nuclear power, and that their arsenal is magnitudes greater and more advanced than their enemies: one has to wonder about the mindset that says they have to keep bombing their enemies back to rubble, lest they achieve some sort of parity of weaponry–is this wise, or a symptom of a self-fulfilling prophesy?
    I have no love for Hizbullah, however, I think it’s simplistically wrong to just label them ‘terrorists’ and be done with them–that’s no way to treat your 80s Lebanese Love Child, Israel!

  9. FDChief says:

    Based on their performance I’d be skeptical at best that the Syrians can hold Israel out of Damascus IF the Israelis are willing to pay the price to break through the “thickest part of the hedge”. Once through the Syrian A-level brigades they should have no problem driving through the rest of the rabble. Hizbullah will be a tougher nut, I presume, and the Israelis might be willing to settle for regime change in Damascus.
    Which is, of course, where the whole thing could midwife a REAL ugly baby. Defenstrating a secular regime in Baghdad unleashed the secular dogs of war in Iraq: knocking over the secular rulers of Syria might well make it irresistable for the Muslim Brotherhood & Co. to make a try for the brass ring there.
    Someone should really tell these Mayberry Machiavellis that there are worse things than having an unfriendly nation-state on your border.

  10. dan says:

    I’m deeply skeptical of IDF intentions/prospects of invading Syria.
    For starters, it’s going to require the wholesale mobilisation of the Israeli military reserves for an extended period of time – this will effectively wreck the Israeli economy if the action lasts longer than 30 days, or they get bogged down in a replay of the 2006 war.
    If the Syrians reprise the Hizbullah rocketry tactics – and they certainly have the kit to do so – then life is going to get very unpleasant for the Israeli population in the north…again.
    Whilst driving to Damascus, the IDF is still going to be stuck with its current 3-front dilemma in Gaza, the West Bank and on the Northern border. On the West Bank it assumes that Fatah will be a “reliable” partner in keeping Hamas restrained whilst the Israelis attack – I doubt this will be the case. The popular reaction in Egypt and Jordan is predictable – Moubarak and Hussein will be placed in considerable difficulties, and there will be pressure on the Saudis to reach for the oil weapon.
    It also assumes that the Syrians will fight the kind of conventional battle that the IDF wants them to fight.
    In the scenario that you describe, there is no way that UNIFIL are going to do anything other than skedaddle – they aren’t going to protect a flank, at great cost to themselves, so that Israel can conduct a war of aggression.
    The final consideration is whether Russia, which has maintained close relations with Syria, will decide to interrupt its oil supplies to Israel. Therein lies the likeliest veto.

  11. JfM says:

    For the reasons you’ve enumerated, the United Nation’s Security Council wisely demurred from the self-serving Israeli appeal to position a force along the Lebanon-Syrian border. UNIFIL’s troubled history of almost thirty years monitoring the Armistice Demarcation Line between Lebanon and Israel has well taught the UN what’s possible and what’s not in that troubled area. The UN has no business in and is not configured nor supported for protracted enforcement operations
    Originally, Security Council resolutions 425 (1978) and 426 (1978) of March 1978, established UNIFIL to confirm Israeli withdrawal from Lebanon, restore international peace and security and assist the Lebanese Government in restoring its effective authority in the area. Following the July/August 2006 crisis, the Council under resolution 1701 enhanced the Force and decided that in addition to the original mandate, it would, among other things, monitor the cessation of hostilities; accompany and support the Lebanese armed forces as they deploy throughout the south of Lebanon; and extend its assistance to help ensure humanitarian access to civilian populations and the voluntary and safe return of displaced persons. Simplistically this can all be summarized as directed at assisting the GOL in establishing its sovereignty over the area of south Lebanon. UNIFIL is not there to protect Israel nor certainly serve as a surrogate of Israel security policy. It should be well known that for the past three decades Israel has constantly interfered with UNIFIL’s attempts to execute its mandate and contributed appreciably to the misery and protracted violence south of the Litani. The South Lebanese are not such rabid enemies of the Chosen People for no good reason. Yes, UNIFIL is often at cross purposes and inherently lacks the coordination of a homogeneous force, but on balance UNIFIL has been a force for the general good in the area.
    In my two plus years working as an unarmed military observer (UNMO) in that mission area to include one year as the chief of the observer group supporting UNIFIL, I know the ground under discussion all too well. First, the UN is truly correct in not manning the area the tribe proposed, it’s untenable and unsupportable. Oh, and I’m not ready to concede the Israelis moving on the Syrians like ‘a knife thru butter’ quite yet. If Hizbullah is able to establish defense in depth with as cogent anit-aircraft belt in consort with a formidable anti-ground attack defense, the game is still up in the air.
    As to us going after the Iranians, no…won’t happen. The urge may persist in the demented Cheney ring, but the necessary allies, our force depth, and the public will all aren’t there.

  12. b says:

    Pat, what is a “Danzig moment?”

    Syria is gaining a lot in economical weight recently. The trade growth rate now tops the 10% range.
    Just as Israel had to delete the tourism competition in Lebanon, it has to delete the economic competition in Syria – maybe.
    There was also an LA Times editorial today on the coming war on Syria.
    Like the WaPo editorial it misrepresents the recent U.N. report on Lebanon and alleged weapon smuggling through Syria. Reports of these are not U.N. proven facts, but simply unproven Israeli allegations.
    This is a concerted “blame Syria” information warfare campaign – a sure sign for a coming war.
    Olmert and Bush certainly both want to have at least one “victory” on their resume. But what do they expect to “win” in Syria or in Lebanon or Iran?
    Israel may try to finally “aquire” the Litani water, but do they really expect this could be achieved in any permanence. Fools.
    As “regime change” is unlikely in any of these countries when under attack, what is there to gain but a lot of dead souls?
    Also – did you notice that oil prices have hit record levels again?

  13. Binh says:

    Would like to hear your take on whether or not there will (or could) be a U.S.-Iran war before Jan ’09 when Bush leaves office.
    I personally doubt the Israelis would time their attack with a U.S. attack on Iran because I don’t think that kind of thing is going to happen until mid-2008 or Jan 2009 (after the surge ends and the beginning of withdrawal which will make the cost of attacking Iran much lower because there won’t be 160,000 targets roaming Iraq).

  14. mo says:

    A Danzig moment? Excuse my ignorance but do you mean the ’39 moment of catching the enemy by surprise? Is that even possible with every man and his dog predicting a round 2 from about 1 hour after last summers ceasefire?

  15. Guthman Bey says:

    Even the Danzig in 1939 moment required a plausible pretext.
    With the exception of the Suez affair, Israel has always had such a pretext prior to going to war. There is zero pretext at this point for invading Syria, which no longer occupies Lebanon and maintains the most peacable of borders with Israel.
    So what is the pretext supposed to be?
    Besides, I don’t doubt that Israel could manage a march though Syria into the Bekaa, but what would that achieve? Israel is incapable of occupying Syrian cities for numerical reasons alone. So what’s the point? There has to be a point, no? What would such a war achieve other than a Hezbollah dominated government in Beirut?
    Call me complacent, but I just don’t see this making any sense. Bush is too weak for that and so is Olmert. Yes Barak has been making noises, but he would do that wouldn’t he…

  16. zanzibar says:

    Why even bother with a “Danzig” moment? These guys are so shameless and who cares enough to speak out any way. The UN? The Quartet? The corporate media is bought and paid for already. For the state in the ME with the most powerful military everything is a “defensive” action against the “terrorists”.

  17. Cloned Poster says:

    As the Israeli circumsised prick moves north (MR MAGOO aka Olmert), beware the Hamas circumcised weapon moving north also.
    PL is right to call Hezbollah tactics just what they are, nothing special but true grit infantry defence. No cold war tank battles, just clever use of land and weapons. The Isrealis only won in the Cold War scenario. They would be mad to move on Syria, there wont be enough armour to take a left turn.

  18. JohnS says:

    I agree with Mo that the WaPo’s op-ed is factually challenged. According to an article by Gary C. Gambill on “The Rise of Fatah al-Islam” in The Middle East Monitor:
    “Allegations in the same media outlets that the Syrians have been caught red-handed smuggling weapons into Lebanon also turned out to be unsubstantiated. UN specialists who spent most of June investigating border security in Lebanon reported to the Security Council that “not a single on-border or near-border seizure of smuggled arms has been documented to the team.” While there are undoubtedly arms pouring across Lebanon’s borders, corruption and incompetence within the Lebanese security services appear largely to blame.”
    That’s via Josh Landis’ blog, SyriaComment

  19. Will says:

    Guest Columnist in the usually neoKon Beirut Daily Star notes that the Starship Enterprise “NCC 1701” shares the same number as United Nations Security Council Resolution 1701.
    He goes on to make some cogent points the best of which are
    “If democracy is a desired outcome…, events prove that this is a half-truth. Democracy did emerge .. such as in Algeria and Palestine, … not of the desired type. Islamic movements fared well in the Algerian elections, but were prevented .. and a bloody civil war … Palestinians voted for Islamic Hamas … The Islamic Republic of Iran – with semblances of democracy – was not challenged,..Therefore, oppression and violence, not democracy, spread in the Middle East, and the world has become a much worse and dangerous place, not more secure.
    “These outcomes/lessons are not lost on the managers of the current global confrontation in the United States, Europe and elsewhere, and adjustments did indeed take place. The first lesson suggests that it was better to minimize direct military invasions and allow the war against militant Islam to be a local affair. Civil wars stopped Islamists from achieving political gains in Algeria, Iraq, and Palestine, and made them busy fighting their more moderate compatriots in Somalia, Afghanistan, and Sudan. As a political solution is not allowed in Lebanon between the pro-West March 14 movement and the Hizbullah-Aoun alliance, a similar eventuality of civil strife may be in the works.
    “The second lesson is that spreading democracy did not work as people were voting in Islamic militants. The alternative to spreading democracy has become spreading moderation, i.e., political regimes in Muslim-majority states are acceptable as long as they are “moderate” (good Muslims and not Islamists), even if they are military dictatorships or despotic dynasties. Democracy and human rights could take the backburner.
    “The lesson of spreading civil war to contain Islamists may not be an advisable path for Lebanon. On the contrary, it should be reason for alarm. The last time the Lebanese fought each other, it lasted for 16 years, with 150,000 deaths, over 800,000 emigrants, and untold physical and economic damage. This country is very fragile with no less than 18 religious communities, a decades-long Syrian/Israeli meddling in Lebanese affairs, a Saudi influence over the Sunnis, an Iranian influence over the Shiites, and French/American hands in orchestrating the positions taken by the March 14 movement.
    “The cycle of violence that started in Lebanon in 2004 has scary resemblances to 1975 – political assassinations, explosions, Israeli invasions, and battles between the Lebanese Army and the Palestinian camps. Lebanon has been experiencing nothing but violence and chaos with no hope in the horizon, as no signs are emerging that the Cedar Revolution is getting anywhere fast or that the threat of terrorism is being diminished. Western and Arab “support” to the “moderates” is really a pressure to prevent rapprochement between moderates and militants, as it is feared that peaceful internal solutions may preserve the power, military and otherwise, of the Islamists and provide legitimacy to organizations defined as terrorist by the United States.
    “The possibility that Lebanon may suffer another civil war seems not to disturb the pursuit of the objective of containing militant Islam and moderate leaders are “encouraged” to take tough non-negotiating positions against the domestic militants, whether Hamas or Hizbullah.
    “As national reconciliation is prevented from prevailing in Lebanon, the country is ripening for a civil war scenario and no one seems to care. When this happens, there will be no Captain Kirk arriving from outer space to rescue Lebanon from itself and from its friends – Western or Arab. Thus creating the conditions for emptying the country of its skilled people, diminishing its economic potential, and pushing its already declining Christian population into extinction through out-migration.

  20. mo says:

    I presume the answer on the other thread that the incident in question was the Gleiwitz incident was in response to this thread.
    If that is the case, that has been Israels m.o. for every attack on Lebanon – Bombs in Tel Aviv, attempted assasinations in London etc.
    However, seeing as this time the world is waiting for Israels attempt at re-asserting its military deterance, would it not be just a bit too obvious even to the Aipac/Memri fed US media? And secondly, the situation as it is, would demand a rather extreme attack to justify such a military campaign. I daresay it would even require deaths on the Israeli side. Would they go that far?

  21. Will says:

    The Col. clarified the Danzig moment under a different thread as the false flag Heydrich-Himmler attack on the Gleiwitz wooden radio transmitter that was used as a pretext to invade Poland from three sides- West Prussia, East Prussia, and Czechsolovokia.

  22. blowback says:

    Pat may be referring to the Gleiwitz Incident.

  23. George says:

    7/5/07 8:09 PM
    Home » National » Article
    Nelson: Oil a factor in Iraq deployment
    July 5, 2007 – 10:50AM
    The Howard Government has today admitted that
    securing oil supplies is a factor in Australia’s continued military involvement in Iraq.
    Defence Minister Brendan Nelson said today oil was a factor in Australia’s contribution to the
    unpopular war, as “energy security” and stability in the Middle East would be crucial to the
    nation’s future.
    Speaking ahead of today’s key foreign policy speech by Prime Minister John Howard, Dr Nelson
    said defence was about protecting the economy as well as physical security.
    Dr Nelson also said it was important to support the “prestige” of the US and UK.
    “The defence update we’re releasing today sets out many priorities for Australia’s defence and
    security, and resource security is one of them,” he told ABC radio.
    “The entire (Middle East) region is an important supplier of energy, oil in particular, to the rest
    of the world.
    “Australians and all of us need to think well what would happen if there were a premature
    withdrawal from Iraq?”
    Federal Opposition leader Kevin Rudd has attacked Dr Nelson’s comments, saying they
    contradict what the Howard Government said when the war began.
    “When Mr Howard was asked back in 2003 whether this war had anything to do with oil, Mr
    Howard said in no way did it have anything to do with oil,” Mr Rudd told reporters in Sydney
    “This Government simply makes it up as it goes along on Iraq.”
    Dr Nelson said the primary reason for Australian troops remaining in Iraq was to prevent
    violence between the Sunni and Shia population, and to bring stability to the region.
    “We’re also there to support our key ally – that’s the United States of America – and we’re there
    to ensure that we don’t have terrorism driven from Iraq which would destabilise our own
    region,” he said.
    “For all of those reasons, one of which is energy security, it’s extremely important that Australia
    take the view that it’s in our interests… to make sure we leave the Middle East and leave Iraq
    in particular in a position of sustainable security.”

  24. John Hammer says:

    During the last go around, I thought the Israelies would hit Damascus in order to create some kind of “in your face” moment. The idea being to reenforce the notion of their superiority. Sounds like they may attempt this on a larger scale.

  25. confusedponderer says:

    It really looks like a neo-con plan.
    The hezzies have built a ‘Maginot Line’? Field Marshal Manstein recommends a right hook, bypassing the line through Syria, which unlike Belgium and the Netherlands isn’t even neutral but an enemy anyway, so from a moral claritists’s everything is swell. Just think about the beauty of the concept.
    Nobody takes serious any threat from Syria – but when Israel attacks Syria anyway, they imply there was at least a secret reason (I mean, they aren’t crazy and see things? They wouldn’t bomb without a rational reason, say, just to prove some academic’s theory, right?) That reason would then be Syria’s support for Hezbollah. The ‘Gleiwitz’ or ‘Tonking’ moment could be the capture of an arms shipment under Iranian or Syrian flag, or a ‘high ranking defector’ giving hair raising testimony, or one of Abrams Saudi-funded crazies being true to homself.
    The ‘logic’ goes that, as it is only Syrian and Iranian support that keeps the hezzies alive, Israel needs to ‘isolate the battlefield’. If they then only beat on Hezbollah hard enough, they will eventually collapse and victory will be Israel’s! After regime change in Damaskus and Beirut Israel will be surrounded by friendly countries and be at peace! BS.
    Reads great and plausible on paper. They don’t even succeed with that isolation strategerery in Palestine. How can they believe it will work with Hezbollah which unlike the Palestinians is coherent and capable?
    Besides, where is the _sustainable_ political objective behind it? Intalling a pro-Israeli government in South-Lebanon and Syria? Israeli or US occupation? Make such a bloody mess that every following president cannot possibly pull out of the carnage because he had to ‘abandon Israel’ to do so, much more so when Israel’s war was US encouraged? Bleh. Escalation to nowhere indeed.
    I think they still haven’t given up on their plan to eliminate ‘Iran’s proxy’, Hezbollah, to be able to then strike Iran. Their time is running out. They only have the chance to pull that till Bush leaves office.

  26. DH says:

    “”anti-tank and anti-aircraft systems” The Hizbullah Lebanese are preparing for renewal of their war with Israel. They are building new fortified “belts” and “stand alone” fortified zones. The “anti-aircraft equipment” is going to make a big difference this time. Israeli pilots are not used to being shot at from the ground while trying to attack targets. Pilots’ aim is not as good under those conditions. Ask a pilot if that is not true.”
    After what happened last summer I think the Israelis would think twice about being drawn in. They weren’t that effective last time and I hate to think of the mincemeat Hez would make of those idealistic Israeli boys.
    Would Cheney think twice about the fate of the Jews if he really just wants an excuse to go after Iran?

  27. Michael says:

    I read blowback’s link on Gleiwitz and found this statement in wiki very ironic given our discussion about Iran, Iraq, Syria.. etc:
    Against all the evidence pro-nazi Germans believed they were fighting a justified defensive war until the last days of the Second World War.

  28. Got A Watch says:

    This plan sounds like it was devised after drinking too many double-shots of optimism and wishful thinking.
    Israel demonstrated last summer that it is not ready to wage all-out war and absorb the thousands of casualties that implies. If the existence of Israel was in fact threatened, they would fight that hard, but that is so obviously not the case this year. Israel will be doubtless better organized and led than last summer, but so will their opposition.
    There have been reports that Russia has sold Syria many new tanks and weapons systems, and re-furbished many of their older ones. The Syrians have reportedly been building new defensive belts, no doubt strongly influenced by last summer’s actions in Lebanon. They will fight differently, and probably harder, than the last time they faced Israel, and, as the article stated, so will Hizbullah.
    The Israeli Air Force may not have its usual un-challenged mastery of the skies, as Russia has supplied Syria (and Syria may have passed some on to HB) with some of the most advanced AA systems they have, and there is talk of more sales. Iran has no doubt also stepped forward with their own domestic AA systems to their Syrian/HB friends. If Israel’s advantage from mass drone/recon flight useage is diminished by AA, the home ground bonus to the defenders will be increased, maybe enough to make the difference.
    There is also the Russian Naval base in Syria factor. The Russians will not look kindly on Israeli over-flights or ships approaching their base, and its radar coverage probably includes most of the region. Would they supply real time intelligience to Syria (who then forward it to HB)? Likely, as they don’t want to see Israel crush Syria.
    AFAIK Russia is Israel’s primary supplier of bulk oil/natural gas. They can probably nip this talk in the bud by the mere threat to turn off the taps. It’s not like they will be unable to sell that oil/gas to others right away (China?/Japan?), leaving Israel with dry tanks. And I don’t think Israel has much leverage with Russia, unless they threaten to nuke them, not exactly the best thing to do to your primary supplier. Putin won’t take that threat lying down either, I would expect.
    Of course, logic has never stopped the neo-cons before, so there is little reason for optimism here.

  29. Curious says:

    Based on their performance I’d be skeptical at best that the Syrians can hold Israel out of Damascus IF the Israelis are willing to pay the price to break through the “thickest part of the hedge”.
    Posted by: FDChief | 05 July 2007 at 01:39 PM
    Why would the Syrian want to form a line of defense. From last battle with Hezbollah, Israel is proven rather pathetic in term of logistic.
    So if I were to design a war. Make sure everything happens at least 4 weeks long and 30 miles away from last inside territory supply line.
    Israel depends on tanks, and those toys doesn’t worth jack without heavy supply line.
    1. Make sure syria can damake supply line nodes inside Israel. Those medium range missile gotta worth something right? Give everybody rocket just to make Israel defends everywhere.
    2. Make sure when those tanks drive across borders it burns gas. And tons of it! (road blog, anti tank mine, decoy) whatever to make the tank gas milage goes down.
    3. Give everybody who can walk a) high explosive b) anti tank weapons.
    4. Everybody shoot, once IDF infrantry dismount. guns, arrow, water bottle, something. Come on. Even the dumbest syrian army can create distraction and make sure the invading army hunker down and use up supply.
    Play the game for 3-4 weeks. Make sure Israel cannot use all their army in one front.
    What will Israel do after taking over Damascus with their tank? Drive around sightseeing and take over the palace? Big deal. go circle around, cut supply and do battle of attrition. Syria only needs light and fast infantry to cut the supply line after 2-3 weeks. It doesn’t even need to fight the tanks.
    Damascus map. (everybody can play arm chair general now. printer, pen and paper. report due tomorrow children.)

  30. Curious says:

    The ‘logic’ goes that, as it is only Syrian and Iranian support that keeps the hezzies alive, Israel needs to ‘isolate the battlefield’. If they then only beat on Hezbollah hard enough, they will eventually collapse and victory will be Israel’s! After regime change in Damaskus and Beirut Israel will be surrounded by friendly countries and be at peace! BS.
    Posted by: confusedponderer | 06 July 2007 at 01:28 AM
    the last chest thumping against Hezb cost Israel approximately their annual defense budget. That was only a short 3 weeks military campaign against light infantry dug up.
    I don’t know about you. I don’t think Syrian is that stupid going to do tank battle head on against Israel when fast light infantry is enough to create so much pain.
    Why not do the Hezb move plus tank later? Tank battle is overated. Syrian has mountains for defense line, good diverse terrain, including urban, and light vehicle friendly road. Do the tango.
    Haffa look yerself.

  31. Got A Watch says:

    Turkey has decided to step forward and do its part to improve stability in the Middle East:
    “Turkish government and military agree on Iraq incursion plans”
    The Associated Press Published: July 6, 2007
    “ANKARA, Turkey: Turkey’s government and military have agreed on detailed plans for a cross-border operation against Kurdish rebels based in northern Iraq, the foreign minister said Friday.
    Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul urged the United States and Iraq, which oppose a Turkish military move into Iraq, to crack down on rebels of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK. But he said Turkey was ready to stage an offensive if necessary.
    “We have decided how to act, everything is clear,” Gul told private NTV television. “We know what to do and when to do it,” he said without providing details.”
    The Turks would do better to apply economic pressure on the Kurds. They could probably get the USA to agree to this as an alternative to invastion. Iran would likely co-operate, they don’t like the Kurds much either, and could probably be used to pressure the Iraqi Shiite government to lean on the Kurds diplomatically as well.
    The Turkish General in charge sounds like a true neo-con at heart, though, and the Turkish public wants Kurdish blood according to polls.
    The Turks will deploy large forces and win, but then they will have to withdraw, and accomplish little in the end.
    Dick Cheney must be an inspirational figure to them.

  32. zanzibar says:

    It may not be a very smart idea to conflate the fighting capabilities of HA with the Syrian military.
    HA have one thing that is very important in a fighting force – motivation and force cohesion. The folks in the HA militia don’t join because of a pay package but because of intense belief in defense of a way of life and their people.
    The Syrian military I doubt have that level of motivation and they may be porous – meaning the Mossad probably have infiltrated.

  33. James Pratt says:

    My guess about the floating of this in the press at this time, on the heels of a new cabinet in Israel with Ehud Barak; is that Barak looked at the documents drafted by the Israeli/American planners and thought it would make a good warning to Nasrullah to keep quiet.
    A major op like an attack on Syria needs US resupply and I think Bush/Cheney want to avoid big problems outside of Iraq. The danger period for a US attack on Iran is late September to late November of 2008. Then the the current administration wouldn’t have to deal with possible repercussions like NATO pulling out of Afghanistan and Shia revenge in Iraq. The neocons may decide to follow the Iraq model and let sanctions weaken the Iranian army for a few years and postpone
    an attack until the next Republican administration.

  34. Montag says:

    Actually, Syria didn’t do so badly in the 1973 War, they fought the Israelis to a stalemate. The Israelis even had to give up some high point positions they’d taken to get their POWs back. The whole question of whether they could have gone on to take Damascus ignores their condition by that time. Dayan kept putting some stick about towards the end, but every time their vehicles stopped the IDF soldiers promptly fell asleep!
    “Nor was it a question of the rank and file alone. The higher the level of command, the more demoralized they seemed to be. Though he talked to all the important commanders, he could not make them press harder than they did.”
    –Martin Van Creveld, “Moshe Dayan,” 2004
    Of course the IDF have always needed scapegoats for their failures, so they’ve become fixated on the myth that an Iraqi armored brigade was somehow responsible for stymying their offensive. Isn’t it lovely to think so?

  35. Yohan says:

    Is it really feasible to execute a left hook into Lebanon from Syria given the mountainous terrain that marks the Lebanon-Syria border? The anti-Lebanon mountains would prevent the massing of armor, would be ideal for defending(even with minimal fortification), and would be hell to resupply through, especially since the lines would already be going long distances through recently occupied territory.

  36. Curious says:

    Is it really feasible to execute a left hook into Lebanon from Syria given the mountainous terrain that marks the Lebanon-Syria border?
    Posted by: Yohan | 07 July 2007 at 02:15 PM
    I don’t see it either.
    1. The Lebanon bombing prove that Israel airforce means nothing to light infantry dug up. It’s all ground battle.
    2. out of Golan height, there is only one destination, north east to damascus. with about 5 miles or so low area that would be pretty hard to keep clean for 4-5 weeks without good number of Israel army securing supply line.
    3. Israel isn’t the only one who can talk hook and jab. Hezbollah, Fatah/west bank and hamas can be used in small number to enter Israel and start doing damage to installation. Combined with light medium range bombing that will shave Israel’s economy 5-10% in the first month. keep it 6 months, Israel won’t be able to support it’s war machine.
    4. Iran-Syria common front. Attacking Syria means Iranian ballistic missiles. Even if it is not accurate, it’s enough to cause a stir for period of time.
    5. Then the obvious question for Israel. What exactly do they want out of attacking syria? Regime change? destroying its military capability? Economy? what? I don’t see how they can accomplish any of this except driving around in tanks, blowing up things and do sightseeing.
    This is not to say the Israelis are still trying to figure out how to pay for last Lebanon war.

  37. DH says:

    What a great thread. These analyses are fascinating. So. If Israel doesn’t jump she looks chicken and has to eat the artillery looking down on her. If she goes, gets bogged down, draws down her economy, and uses reserve troops, she’s weakened. If she takes Damascus, it will fall to Hezbollah eventually. Last year she executed a non-proportional war against Lebanon, and now she’s fomented ‘her’ Palestinians to a tender turn. Would Russia be doing her a face-saving favor by intervening with the threat of oil cut-off, and at the same time raising Russia’s credibility profile?

  38. John Shreffler says:

    The Enterprise Group has set sail, making potentially 3 carriers on station off Iran.
    There have been rumors that the Truman group might be next, for deployment in the Red Sea as a strategic reserve. The Israelis expect Iran to react, in fact want it so. Guns of August, anyone?

  39. confusedponderer says:

    I re-read Luttwak’s essay from Foreign Affairs ‘Give War a Chance‘ for some input on the neo-con view on war as a political tool. To stress that, Luttwak doesn’t adress Israel directly, in fact, he avoids the issue where he can. From the into:

    AN UNPLEASANT truth often overlooked is that although war is a great evil, it does have a great virtue: it can resolve political conflicts and lead to peace. This can happen when all belligerents become exhausted or when one wins decisively. Either way the key is that the fighting must continue until a resolution is reached. War brings peace only after passing a culminating phase of violence. Hopes of military success must fade for accommodation to become more attractive than further combat. Since the establishment of the United Nations and the enshrinement of great-power politics in its Security Council, however, wars among lesser powers have rarely been allowed to run their natural course. Instead, they have typically been interrupted early on, before they could burn themselves out and establish the preconditions for a lasting settlement.

    Some remarks, and I attempted to structure them for better readability:

    1. Luttwak argues along the line of his ‘paradoxic logic of war’, that the only useful function of which is to bring peace by annihilating one side or exhausting it through attrition. Modern Western and U.N. diplomacy has prevented wars from running “their natural course.” Just as if war is a natural force, like fire, that dies out when it runs out of oxygen or material to burn.
      That is a recurring theme, and of course, if you put two terriers into a pit and make them fight, the stronger one will get out of the fight victorious. However, a thing Luttwak doesn’t mention is that moral clarity doesn’t prevent the means that are justified by the ends from starting a life of their own, and demanding that the means are justified by new ends. That would then be the ‘dialectic of the paradoxon of war’. Even in the paradox world of war actions have consequences.
    2. Luttwak on Palestinian refugees:

      The UNRWA was established immediately after the 1948-49 Arab-Israeli war to feed, shelter, educate, and provide health services for Arab refugees who had fled Israeli zones in the former territory of Palestine. By keeping refugees alive in spartan conditions that encouraged their rapid emigration or local resettlement, the UNRRA’s camps in Europe had assuaged postwar resentments and helped disperse revanchist concentrations of national groups.

      It is interesting to think about what solution Luttwak draws from that. Apparently, he doesn’t speak that out aloud, he sais that the refugees should have been abandoned, giving them an incentive to assimilate in the surrounding arab nations, preventing a Palestinian identity from forming, so that Israel, in an ‘isolated battlefield’, could have dealt the Palestinians the final blow for a durable peace early.
      Luttwak on Russia and Chechnya:

      In all those areas, warfare has persisted for decades, yet there is no peace in sight. But war can become its own remedy only by consuming and destroying the material and moral resources needed to keep fighting. It follows that the speed with which war destroys itself depends on its intensity and scale. In civil wars, the intensity of the fighting is usually low and the scale very limited, except for short (often seasonal) explosions of violence that, in most cases, are very localized. That leaves unaffected the wider environment, whose undestroyed resources can fuel war endlessly. As Crocker notes, Chechen resistance to the Russians began in the 1830s. But during the last 170 years there have been only a few months of truly intense large-scale fighting. Otherwise, the Russians would long ago have achieved an imperial peace through genocide or forced dispersal. Acting Russian President Vladimir Putin wants to achieve peace through all-out victory. But he is unlikely to do so because his war is not destroying the essential war-making resource of the Chechens — their warrior youth. With Russia’s democracy sufficiently established to make genocide or mass deportation impossible, Putin’s choices are restricted to an endless war inside Chechnya or the republic’s isolation behind a well-guarded perimeter.

      Exchange Russia and Chenchnya for Israel and Palestine/ Lebanon/ Syria and you get the idea.
      Luttwak’s cheerful musings reminds me of the amoral thinking of an eight-year-old. Little story: An aunt one day got curious what her child was doing, after not hearing anything of it for an hour or so. She found her child and asked what it was doing. Child explained that it was playing with a fly. Mother asked how one plays with a fly; flies fly away. Child replied deeply serious that that’s the reason why he plucked it’s wings out. Indeed, problem solved.

    3. Luttwak formulates a truism when he sais that war is the evident proof that political means to resolute conflicting differences have failed. Jeanne Kirkpatrick famously said that “we have war when at least one of the parties to a conflict wants something more than it wants peace.” Both quips are nice soundbites and perfect smartass output, but also quite self-serving as a political argument. Whenever you opted for war, well, so be it. That you go to war proves that the requirements for war were met. War is natural expression of political will, the way great nations act and have always acted. Chicken for dinner?
    4. In combination with the neo-conservative habit of portraying any current political situation in order to fabricate a sense of threat to justify their own ends, military strength for its own sake, and whatever else, that leads to a clear inclination to use military force. Be it the Soviets, Khomeni, Ghaddafi, Saddam, Ahmedinejad — it is always 1939 and appeasement is unacceptable, the enemy is the utter evil and confrontation is the only way to go.
      Which claims the only solution to conflict is use of force, suggesting that the conflict would have never gone military had there been a political solution for it. There is no alternative for war because the enemy is irreconcilable and the conflict is locked. Indeed, there must be a final solution! It is victory or holocaust!
      It is that line of ‘moral clarity’ and amoral ‘ends justifying the means’-thinking and concern about the purity of the Ayran race that at the Wannsee Konferenz brought upon the Jews the genocide at the hands of the Nazis.
    5. To quote Jeanne Kirkpatrick once again: “As long as you can change the rulers – the government – and preserve political competition, then I don’t worry about losing freedom,” which can be read as that there is nothing wrong about authoritarianism, under leadership with moral clarity, as long as it pays lip service to ‘freedom’, and allows for pro forma change. In that sense, neo-conservativism reflects Strauss deep distrust of democracy based on his observations in Weimar Germany. And it seems indeed so as if Carl Schmitt shared Strauss’ belief in a strong authoritarian government. In tune with their history, the Russians now again have such a system, which according to neo-conservative voices is intolerable. Which makes me wonder where actual neo-conservative political thinking stops and starts to where neo-conservative propaganda for some overarching political goal begins. My best guess is that there are two wings of them, the actual thinkers and the propagandists.
    6. Another bit that struck me during Luttwak’s articles and the following dispute with Mr. Crocker about the merits of Luttwak’s argument, was that nobody bothered to explicitly address outside covert intervention or and proxy wars.
      Of course, in Luttwak’s argumeent he implicitly concedes that. Now apply that to the US support for Israel. In my understanding so that, after the Soviet support for the Arab states dried up, the US would have had no more excuse to fund Israel to counter Soviet influence—to give that conflict a chance to ‘burn out’ and pave the way to an Endlösung.
      Israel, since say 1991, had they been forced to pay the bill for their own military and wars, would long have gone bankrupt. Israel on its own is likely incapable of maintaining its military spending. Of course US support is enabling Israel to continue its policies and to maintain its military strength.
      So, quite clearly, it is not only outside meddling in terms of imposing imperfect or outright silly peace agreements but also legitimate friendly foreign support that influences the duration of conflicts. Luttwak ignores financial and military support of the sort the US provides to Israel as if it is nonexistent. Not to mention that this support is vastly exceeding that of any enemy of Israel to the Palestinians, Hezbollah or the military budgets of states like Iran and Syria.
      I see in that not so much hypochrisy but an inconsistency that is overridden by the primacy of political will, informed by a genuine feeling of moral obligation towards Israel.

    Just like Luttwak, the neo-cons chorus argues that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as much as the Israeli-Arab conflict, long past being politically solvable, begs for a military solution because politically they favour a one sided outcome with a victorious Israel imposing conditions on its enemies. The proposal of a right hook through Syria into Lebanon is only the latest incarnation of ‘A clean Break’.

  40. CletracSteve says:

    There is a famous quote by a member close to the administration, that I cannot find or remember correctly, which goes something to the effect of they can ignore the facts since they are in charge and therefore get to define reality. This, along with Bush’s penchant for showing he is in charge by doing the opposite of what public opinion and informed recommendations suggest (take the Iraq Study Group as a prime example), frighten me greatly. Today, I believe, we have finally reached the tipping point. The reported defections within his own party and now today’s NY Times editorial leading with the statement “It is time for the United States to leave Iraq, without any more delay than the Pentagon needs to organize an orderly exit.” is as close to challenging GWB’s authority as this country has come. His past support is in near rebellion. To show us and the world that he, Bush, is still the Decider, he has only one option left – the invasions of Gaza and Iran: facts be damned, strategy be lacking and the will of a democracy ignored.

  41. DH says:

    This one, Steve?
    “The source of the term is a quotation in an October 17, 2004, New York Times Magazine article by writer Ron Suskind, quoting an unnamed aide to George W. Bush:[1]
    The aide said that guys like me were “in what we call the reality-based community,” which he defined as people who “believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality.” … “That’s not the way the world really works anymore,” he continued. “We’re an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you’re studying that reality—judiciously, as you will—we’ll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that’s how things will sort out. We’re history’s actors . . . and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.”

  42. confusedponderer says:

    “Which claims the only solution to conflict is use of force, suggesting that the conflict would have never gone military had there been a political solution for it.”
    I garbled that sentence when editing. I wanted to say this:
    “In Luttwak’s view the solution for war is war. That there is war is the proof that there was no political solution to prevent it.”
    That is as logical as it is trivial.

  43. confusedponderer says:

    “Luttwak argues along the line of his ‘paradoxic logic of war’, that the only useful function of which is to bring peace by annihilating one side or exhausting it through attrition. Modern Western and U.N. diplomacy has prevented wars from running “their natural course.” Just as if war is a natural force, like fire, that dies out when it runs out of oxygen or material to burn. That is a recurring theme”
    …to which I’d like to add, that it is in my view deeply frivolous and repulsive to read folks like Luttwak write and apparently think about war, death and destruction like about an experiment in a petri dish.

  44. CletracSteve says:

    To Wiki-
    Yes, thanks.

  45. Montag says:

    There’s a funny story about a theorist with Luttwak’s detachment who got his comeuppance–Benito Mussolini. Mussolini started his political life as a Socialist, but during Italy’s neutrality before it joined the Allies in 1915 he became an Interventionist with a newspaper of his very own financed by France. Mussolini spouted off about the virility of war and Italy’s destiny, etc. But when Italy actually entered the war his Socialist past kept him out of the service at first. Mussolini lobbied anyone and everyone to get into the war because he knew that he needed a halfway decent service record for postwar political advancement.
    Well, he finally got his wish and was at the front for a year, reaching the exalted rank of Sergeant. But now he started lobbying again begging, “Get me outta here!” He decided that war was simply not his thing.
    He finally went home due to an accident. He was leading a mortar crew when he noticed that the barrel of the mortar they were firing was getting too hot for use. But the Lieutenant in command said, “Oh, just one more.” And that one exploded in the barrel, gravely wounding Mussolini to the point where his war was over. A friend of his went up to two passing soldiers to ask them to carry Mussolini to the Aid Station. But when they heard who it was they indignantly refused saying, “The Interventionist has gotten what he deserved!”

  46. Sidney O. Smith III says:

    Fantastic insights re: Luttwak. Thanks for sharing them.

  47. confusedponderer says:

    ty SOS,
    one more elaboration:
    That is a recurring theme, and of course, if you put two terriers into a pit and make them fight, the stronger one will get out of the fight victorious.
    …after that it should continue: “But of course the world is more complex than a fighting pit.”
    The gizmos of RMA seem to allow to achieve an isolated battlefield by taking full advantage of precision weapons and reconaissance capabilities to interdict reinforcements and smother the isolated enemy with fire (like in those shiny weapon flyers). That explains the neo-con love affair with the RMA. America is militarily superior to almost any typical target country, as the first Gulf War so impressively demonstrated. If they only succeed to isolate the evildoers, they could crush them with ease.
    People like Wolfowitz are moralists. The neo-con good & evil view suggests that evil must not be ‘appeased’ — unchecked the Nazis eventually comitted genocide on Jews and Gypsies. So, against such enemies, to go to war is more than just logical – it is morally imperative. That suggests to me that when ‘dealing with evildoers’ in their view ethical statecraft is war.
    Protracted wars only delay the outcome, and reduce military advantage. Instead of keeping Saddam or North Korea under sanctions, finish them off already, now, and set in motion what Ledeen calls creative destruction (but that is something for another post).
    To then subordinate political considerations to security problems to military imperatives is only consequent. The preface of the second Iraq war can serve as a model for study in this regard. War, confrontation, is the only political solution that doesn’t morally compromise the decisionmaker’s morality.
    No more handshakes with swine like Saddam. Kill them. Nevermind that it delegates the moral issue downwards, to the soldiers who have to kill, maim and destroy, and get killed, maimed, so that their leader’s moral clarity is not compromised. It’s so comforting they’re all volunteers. In my view that is just cowardice, and dereliction of duty. Already the troops are required to make the local compromises with ‘evildoers’ the politicos are unwilling to make to stay clear of any ‘flip-flopping on evil’.
    The neo-con’s Team-B effort served a purpose. They were not paranoid. It’s a fair guess that some of the neo-con propagandists simply didn’t care about real data. Just imagine the torment of an intelligence empiricist having to defend his data against a hostile neo-con who doesn’t give a shit about reality because the illusion of Russians that are three metres tall is a political necessity. It ends in the only possible way, that the neo-con politico brings into play the ‘political civilian control’ of the military and tries to steamroll the dissent. That’s why you have strategically placed neo-con Komissars trying to ensure politically desired results, and that’s why you find them as appointees in the executive branch. How ironic.
    But that aside, the deeper point is that the neo-cons wanted to make a nuclear war ‘winnable’ with all their lamenting about imaginary missile gaps and such. They needed to exaggerate Russian strength to bring America in the mood for up-armamanet. Their fear was that MAD would lead to appeasement of what they saw as the utter evil, the Soviets, because of the risks involved. They found such a policy morally intolerable. As a result they struggled to create additional options to the decisionmakers – and here, to make nuclear war winnable, so that America would be able to successfully confront it. This is what I think is behind when Cheney sais ‘All options are on the table’.
    After they ‘won the cold war’ they applied what they saw as their successful policy on all foreign policy, especially towards the surviving undesirables after the Cold War. The defense planning guidance quite consequently (which doesn’t make it sensible or wise) argued for making selective conventional war against weaker undesirables winnable. The key to that capability would be the empowerment of conventional weapons through the RMA — transformation.
    To get back to Luttwak, he concedes in his paradoxic logic thesis that it is only a question of time before the enemy adapts and the new weapon becomes less effective.
    Looking closer at Lutwak’s implicit critique and diagnosis of the Palestinian conundrum the reason he identifies is that Palestinians have never been beaten decisively, decisively along the lines of Japan or Nazi-Germany, and by implication that basically not enough Palestinian warrior youth has been killed to break Palestinian fighting spirit. To repeat, Luttwak mandates decisive war.
    When one accepts Luttwaks ideas and tries to apply them practically on the conduct of a war, it leads to the conclusion that, when you have an advantage, and when your enemy will get used to it over time (which is a correct observation).
    Form there you get to two conclusions: (a) don’t fight if you don’t need to, but when you have to go for it with overwhelming force (iirc the Powell doctrine), or (b) strike first to take maximum advantage of your technological and material advantage. The neo-cons drew conclusion (b).
    That is what in my understanding the preventive war doctrine is all about.

  48. Peter Principle says:

    “They [the Israelis] are preparing for a drive into Syria across the Golan heights . . . and then a left ‘hook’ into Lebanon to execute a ‘turning movement’ against Hizbullah.”
    And when (if) they win their “decisive” battle against the Syrian Army, and invade the Bekaa from the east, what will they do then? Settle down and occupy both places? Run the Star of David up over walls of Damascus?
    Sure. Why not. After all, we’ve seen how well long-term occupations of Arab countries work. Why not add a couple more?
    This isn’t strategy, it’s organized insanity. Quite the fashion these days.

  49. confusedponderer says:

    “that doesn’t morally compromise the decisionmaker’s morality” …and, of course, by extension the morality of the country.

  50. Just an ex grunt says:

    To Peter:
    Looking at it as I would if I were an Israeli, I would be making a plan of action should Hisbollah start lobbing rockets into my country again.
    Last time they tried to “flush” them north. Didn’t work very well at all, as sometimes the game
    just won’t “flush” with a
    falcon overhead. Hizbollah
    clearly prepared to stay put, and did.
    Next time, if there is a next time, I posit that the Israelis plan on cutting off southern Lebanon
    to starve them out. Means
    a long, costly occupation, but if that’s what it takes to stop those missiles, I suspect they will undertake it.
    So, why Damascus? I would
    think sealing Syria off from Lebanon would be a logical step in a war of attrition. Once arms are in Lebanon, there are too many ways to sneak them south.

  51. Sidney O. Smith III says:

    Confused Ponderer:
    Thanks for the additional comments re: Luttwak. Your analysis may corroborate the idea that the neoconservative view of strategic intelligence is not intelligence at all. It more closely relates to what Habakkuk, quoting Sherman Kent, calls “taking off from the wish”. If true, then the actual aim of Gary Schmitt and Abram Shulsky in their 1999 article was to gut the Anglo-American “world of intelligence” as established by Kent and Collingwood. By doing so, then Straussians, for all intents and purposes, gained control of US foreign policy.
    So the challenge becomes, at least in my view, to identify the esoteric intent that “lies” behind the mask of Leo Strauss (by which I mean nous and not nous, to play on the S and S title!). Certainly, since Schmitt, Shulsky, Brooks et al. identify themselves as Straussians, then one can safely assume that they have used deception against Americans in obtaining their goal and will continue to do so. And if you check out how the Straussians — particularly Allan Bloom — acted in academic settings, then one can assume that they will use intimidation as well. Allan Bloom’s attack on Prof. Rossiter only foreshadowed the neoconservative attack on Gen. Zinni, when he was branded a traitor — a false accusation so extraordinary that you cannot help but wonder if they were identifying themselves as they hid behind the mask of Strauss.

  52. Mo says:

    just an ex grunt,
    A couple of points. Between the 2000 Israeli withdrawl and July 12 last year, there were only 3 UNIFIL recorded rocket attacks by Hizbollah against Israel. Each of the three were in respose to Israeli action in Lebanon.
    Cutting off the South would accomplish nothing. Hizbollah are not purely in the South and their medium and longer range rockets do not need to be that far south. And of course, the last time the Israelis were there, they weren’t able to stop the rockets being fired from inside the area.
    Israel doesnt have the manpower to control any flow of arms from Syria into Lebanon. They could arguably stop the arms coming into Syria by plane but not by land.

  53. pbrownlee says:

    One of the most extraordinary pathological behaviours among the current crop of neo-McCarthyites (Joe, not Gene) is the freedom, even frivolity, with which the word “traitor” is sprayed around.
    The methodology of smear, vilification, mendacity and plain old flim-flam used by the Imperial storm-pundits (like Luttwak) could not have worked so very well without the “judicious” analysis of the mainstream media parrots.
    Wasn’t someone saying that the real work and achievement of the neokons was (like the old P2 movement in Italy) not sweeping policy change towards some high ideals but rather jobs, money, junkets and personal power for its apostles? Did Perle ever get around to suing Sy Hersh in the UK??

  54. Leila says:

    Ex Grunt said “Next time, if there is a next time, I posit that the Israelis plan on cutting off southern Lebanon to starve them out. Means a long, costly occupation, but if that’s what it takes to stop those missiles, I suspect they will undertake it.
    Hey, grunt, I’m just a bystander to South Lebanon’s wars, but it strikes me that “starving them out” and prolonged occupation are strategies the Israelis tried in 1978, 1982 and forward through 2000, when they slunk out of Lebanon with their tails between their legs, and then once again in 2006. Um, and remember, they made such a mess in 1982 that the Marines had to come in to “stabilize” things; but the US messed up its mission (I’m sorry, that’s what happened) and got caught in the quagmire and suffered grave losses, too.
    The Israelis have tried using proxies (South Lebanon Army, etc. etc.); they have tried occupying for themselves. Last summer they bombed every bridge and highway overpass they could find, blew an oil depot and polluted the Mediterranean coast for a hundred miles and more; blew up milk factories, kleenex factories; destroyed all the airport runways; sealed off all the ports; etc. etc. etc. Didn’t work, now did it? And it won’t work again.
    I have a cousin, a pudgy, middle-aged, balding computer software tech guy, whose kids were stuck inside South Lebanon last summer. He flew to Syria and took a cab right into the thick of the fighting to meet his children some miles away from our village (they’d gone to a meeting spot in a cab); he passed the ambulance he’d seen blown up on tv the night before; he passed through intense strafing, gunfire you name it. He is the mildest mannered fellow you’ve ever seen – heart problems too – but he just took the damn cab and got his kids.
    “It was tense, but it was just like the civil war, so we’re used to it.” Tense. He was driving through a war zone where the Israelis were blowing up anything on wheels. How many of your flabby US middle managers have that kind of guts?
    No wonder the right-wing nuts talk about nuclear options. (“Turn that place into a glass parking lot”). The Lebanese (and Palestinians of S. Lebanon too) have suffered just about every tactic, illegal and legal, that a modern army can deliver, and they haven’t given up yet.
    No, mr. grunt, don’t be too confident of what Israel can achieve by “starving them out” or any other method. I say they have a rat’s chance in hell of subduing Lebanon, much less Syria, unless they are willing to blow up nukes in their own back yard – which would seem like a dumb move, considering how the prevailing winds and waterways could blow radiation around.
    THey’re pretty stupid and bloodthirsty, the whole lot of them (I include the Lebanese in this too) but eventually they may actually have to negotiate their way out of this impasse. Maybe.
    If we ever get a real government back in the USA, and not just a kleptocracy of incompetent trust-fund ideologues, maybe our gov’t will make them work it out. If we wanted to, we could.

  55. Just an ex grunt says:

    To Mo: post is about what Israel might do (and be planning for) if the rocket attacks were to return in their pre 06 levels. For
    now, Hizbollah is indeed keeping it down, as you point out. But I doubt the IDF thinks it’ll stay that way and is planning and training accordingly.
    I agree, are most likely correct, it would not stop the rockets completely. But
    I don’t think Israel will attempt a repeat of the 06
    strategy, and I don’t think the current Israeli leadership will tolerate a resumption of the attacks that preceded their 06 invasion now anymore than they did then. Just speculating as to why Golan and Syria. I really don’t think they intend to occupy Damascus, so what other reason to go there? Other than the one proposed by the Col., that is.
    Playing devils advocate here.
    I am not advocating the tactic at all, just speculating about it’s use.
    I also think it a desperate move of questionable efficacy and ethics. But then so is invading Syria.
    Perhaps that’s why
    I suspect it a possible course of action. Israel
    has done a bit of that kind of thing of late. IMO, anyway.

  56. Just an ex grunt says:

    Mo is correct. Hizbollah
    did not launch many missles into Israel prior to the Israeli intervention. I was mis-informed as to the level of Hizbollah aggression prior to the 06 invasion.

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