KHIAM, Lebanon, Aug. 14 — A little after dawn Monday, the shells crashed every few seconds. The last fell at 7:56 a.m. Then they stopped, as suddenly as they had begun 33 days before. And into the streets of this Shiite Muslim town, where electricity wires laced through rubble and a tree branch sprawled across the hood of a green BMW, the fighters emerged, bathed in a cool mountain breeze.
There was no gunfire in the air, no chants, no jubilant displays of celebration. There were, rather, the satisfied expressions of survival. Men embraced, kissing each other’s cheeks, some emerging into sunlight for the first time in weeks. Cellphones, in almost everyone’s hand, rang with queries of others’ whereabouts, the fate of houses and the reality of a cease-fire that still seemed fragile. They smiled. "Thank God for your safety" was the refrain.
And Hussein Kalash, burly, hard and confident, offered three words that defined the war for Khiam’s defenders, the Hezbollah fighters.
"We’re still here," he said.
Israel is leaving the battlefield in Lebanon. It has already begun to withdraw troops from north of the border, and plans to withdraw all of its forces when relieved by UNIFIL+ and the Lebanese Army. When that relief might take place is unclear.
What is clear is that Hizbullah’s forces remain in place all over the disputed zone and that its command and control of its forces remains effective. How can you know that? Easy. The day before the cease fire Hizbullah fired 250 rockets into Israel and since the cease fire has fired none. This represents unmistakable evidence of effective command.
The IDF believes that Hizbullah is using the southward flow of returning refugees to infiltrate reinforcements and re-supply into the area near the border only partially occupied by the IDF. Between and among the scattered positions of the IDF there are many areas empty of Israeli troops. There are Hizbullah forces in these areas waiting for re-supply. The IDF must know that. Why are they vacating the battlefield in these circumstances?
A basic lesson of history is that one must win on the battlefield to dictate the peace. A proof of winning on the battlefield has always been possession of that battlefield when the shooting stops. Those who remain on the field are just about always believed to have been victorious. Those who leave the field are believed to be the defeated.
Lee remained on the field a day after both Antietam and Gettysburg waiting to resume the fight. McClellan and Meade did not respond and Lee then moved away withdrawing to the south. He is thought to have been defeated in both battles although both could be argued to have been a "draw."
Look at the man on the stretcher. If this situation continues to develop along present lines, he will be considered the victor of the 2006 Israeli/Hizbullah War.
I agree with your assessment. The IDF is leaving because they know (at least some in the organization know) that they were defeated on the ground.
From a strictly tactical point of view, this whole effort should have showed the Israelis that they couldn’t destroy HA from the air, and that they couldn’t do it on the ground in the way they had sort-of planned.
Whatever amount of destruction was done to them (and I don’t think it’s as severe as most commentators have said), HA showed that they’ve worked out new tactics that make controlling the ground too costly for the Israelis to even think about. These tactics look to me like a combination of the Mujahideen war against the Soviets and the current war against the Americans in Iraq, and perhaps the Iranian defense against the Iraqis in that war.
I don’t see a way to defeat these tactics on the ground without destroying all civilian life in the area, either by rounding them up a la the Boer War or by killing them all. Maybe better military minds can see another way.
I just hope this doesn’t lead the Israelis to conclude that they might just as well nuke everybody since they have to wipe out the civilians anyway.
A proof of winning on the battlefield has always been possession of that battlefield when the shooting stops.
Also, Israel went to war to get the 2 soldiers back. They are still in HA custody, no?
Well, Pat, I argree with as to who will come out of this percieved as the winner. Now…who is going to tell Bush? Did you see him yesterday? Delusional.
Perhaps this is the first smart thing the IDF has done: leave! Preserve your army. My suggestions for Israel:
1. Secretly, pull out all the stops to contact Nasrallah. Hammer out terms of prisoner exchange. The deal will be one-sided…but make the deal and be done with it.
2. A hospital: Israel, secretly, budgets many millions via a trusted, confidential 3rd party. The 3rd party builds a hospital on the south banks of the Litani. A hospital, the likes of which make the Mayo Clinic look like a popsicle stand. The hospital treats everyone. A wounded fighter, a child. Come one, come all. There are no lectures, no propaganda. Just medical treatment. Top flight care.
** the only proviso is that all staff wear, on their breast pocket, the symbol of the “Lebanese Federal Gov’t” (LFG). Hallways and treatment rooms all have a wall hanging…the LFG. That’s it.
3. Construction: Israel, with USA, via UN, cause immediate and massive delivery of fleets of trucks and building supplies. All trucks manned by uniformed Lebanese soldiers. And, ALL trucks have prominently displayed on each door and the hood: the LFG symbol and the words. These trucks, and hired construction gangs, flood S. Lebanon. The soldiers sometimes bark orders to the construction gangs…even if the soldier doesn’t know what he’s talking about. But to all appearances, it’s the LFG which is IN CHARGE.
4. Food: Israel, USA, again via UN, cause immediate and massive delivery of food trucks. All food trucks festooned as are the construction vehicles. All food trucks manned by uniformed Lebanese soldiers. If Hizb offers dates, fruit, and grain to a destitute family…within the hour a LFG food truck rolls up offering steaks and chops. Seriously!
*** in essence, my plan is simply for the “LFG” to out-hustle hizbollah. Show the people that the LFG is better and faster in every way than hizb. Why, everytime a resident of S. Lebanon would look up, here comes another clearly marked LFG truck over the hill and down the road.***
5. law enforcement: the LFG enforces only one law: if you possess a rocket, you go to jail for 12 months. Trials are swift, and held in the field. There’s about a 99% conviction rate. The prisoner is NOT beaten or tortured. He goes to a spartan cell but gets 3 meals and family visits. But he sits in the can for 12 months.
A. all other crime matters are up to the locals to enforce.
B. searches: there are no searches in the middle of the night. If you think someone has a rocket hidden behind the sofa…that rocket will be there the next morning. Searches can be thorough without so much as breaking a coffee cup. All searches led by LFG officers. They are in charge. UN soldiers follow the directions of the LFG officers. If furniture is moved while looking for rockets…put the furniture back when finished! A well-trained military unit can exercise its authority and at the same time exercise common manners.
6. Soldier placement: LFG soldiers heavily in S. Lebanon with many UN soldiers as well. But a MASSIVE number of UN soldiers are placed all along the Syrian border…north to south. These soldiers look for only one thing: rockets. If caught trying to smuggle a rocket across the border…to the can you go. 12 months.
My idea will probably be labeled “pie-in-the-sky”. Fair enough. But to the IDF I would simply ask: “hows that Normandy D-Day invasion tactic working out?”
Col. – Robert Fisk, who appears to be in Srifa, says in today’s Independent that there were apparently never 30,000 Israeli troops and now are probably fewer than 1,000 still in Lebanon (http://news.independent.co.uk/world/fisk/article1219260.ece).
Does that square with what you are hearing?
Dear Colonel Lang;
Thank you for the effort you have put into this site. It’s good to see that there at least a few men of solid credentials willing to carry the heavy load. What has happened to the generals, who spoke up because Rumsfield had to go? Has his job performance improved so much that they can now keep quiet?
Your site is lucid, intelligent and deep. Just to heap on the brownnose a bit more, this is the only site I’ve found about military and political matters, where there is an intelligent, adult and masculine conversation going on among the commenters. People here bring something to the table besides an ego and a screaming mouth. Maybe this will catch on and we’ll all be saved.
I was a grunt. My point of view is a draftee’s and private’s point of view. Still, I’d like to add a few thoughts about the infantry, why its causing Western armies to fail and a terrible solution, but a solution that has been used before.
I don’t see this great weakness in the military power structure to be entirely or even mostly a military problem with a military solution. This is a matter of the class struggle (which, of coures, doesn’t really exist. Ask any politician.) not military structure.
The idea of an empire spreading democracy is laughable. What’s the slogan,”We’re Gonna Teach The World That They Don’t Have to Put Up With People Like Us”? “Down with Us” “Become Democracies, Free yourselves from Empires and Outside Forces”.
As a former piece of cannon fodder, I would like officers to know the Western working class has become more powerful, cynical and considers itself more knowledgeable than any generation in the past. We can now afford to value people over machinery in almost every case. We would never allow our leaders to develop a truly aggressive army. Not understanding empire and unwilling to view their nation and its every act as anything but good, we force the design of armies designed to protect individual soldiers at the cost of military equipment. Our sons are not going to die to keep tanks alive. Tanks are built to keep our sons alive.
As I’m sure most of the people at this site know and as the History Channel taught me, the word “infantry” comes from the greek word for “infant, boy child”. They were the kids who threw rock at enemy spearmen facing a phalanx to show their nerve to Greek warriors. It evolved from there to become disposable units to capture or protect military machinery.
They have become infants again. We know the name of the Israeli kids that were captured. “Our boys” are featured in every media. Why can’t they get some of that RoboCop armor, the people want to know. Did you know that “The Marlboro Man” that weary faced boy from the pics after Falluga, has PTSD and was recently seperated from his wife? The person in charge of the two soldiers who were captured and killed is being investigated for knowingly assigning two soldiers to a position where they might be killed.
The West, America in particular, can no longer build a strong infantry internally. We use tanks to protect our troops. Letting Americans get killed to protect tanks has become immoral. We’re too wealthy for that. We don’t have nearly as much magic as the rich. They are so magically powerful that none of their sons are ever killed in battle. But, all classes in America have enough mojo to keep their sons out of an old time infantry. That’s work for desperate hard men.
Since this is a matter of class struggle, the men who die to protect equipment have to be poor, desperate and oppressed. The slight gains made by the British working class during the Empire period never gave them the muscle to keep their sons from being used in mad schemes. Do you tell An Army of One that his job Is But to Do and Die? The military must reach a solution, because tanks ain’t taxis and you can’t have an aggressive army without infantry to protect equipment and hold ground if needed. Therefore the solution is nasty and racist.
If America desires to keep her so called empire, The American Foreign Legion must be born. Like Rome and most other non-warrior empires, we have to go hire men from poor, desperate lands. We must pay them much beyond what they can make in their own lands, give them power in their own lands if they live to retire, take good care (in local dollars) of their kin, and most of all, keep them oppressed while in the service, so that they are willing to die to protect our machines.
Is an empire worth it? We could go to Africa, Latin America, Asia, in fact, just about any impoverished people will do. Step back from the military engagement and you can see that Triumphant Capitalism is savaging the wretchedly poor. Every one of those 10,000 kids who live on the huge smoldering garbage dump in Sao Paulo and spent their childhood hacking while they pick through trash will want to shoot us in the face if they live.
To the peasantry, who did not understand the glaring deficiencies of the Soviet Union, the death of Communism was the death of hope. The desperate are willing to die.
Any men belonging to an army named “The Army of God” and are led by a man whose name means “God’s Victor” is probably more willing to die for what they believe than I am. Like most Americans, I’m willing to die in defense of what I have; i.e. home and family, but dying for an idea is so yesterday. My son is in the service. He signed a long term enlistment for special schooling just before the feces hit the rotating blades. I’m counting the days until he gets out.
The best most empires can do for infantry is to induce the poor and oppressed to become less poor and desperate, by oppressing other poor desperate people. An Uncle Sam Needs You sign at Starbucks ain’t gonna get you the guys you need. Neither is lowering health and age requirements.
Get poor desperate men with blood on their hands, beat them into disiplined killers and machine protectors. Or, first get out of the Middle East. The Arab impoverished are enraged about our conduct and imperial disrespect. They are willing to die for respect. I used to be a grunt who was willing to die. My new book would be, “Why I Shined Nasrallah’s Shoes on Television; How I Wisely Kept from Getting My Throat Cut”.
I guess that I’ve worked this idea as long as I can, and thanks to anyone still reading. But, I think that the coming excesses of Capitalism will more than allow mercenary brutal infantries. It’s going to allow slavery. Soon the lowest classes will have no individual human value beyond chattel labor. Within a generation, the blacks will be effectively reenslaved by a legal system that targets their recreational drugs and practices. 2.2 million black men are in the system now. One in 3 or 4 spend some time inside. On assembly lines in Asia women often have their mouths duct taped closed for talking. Floggings are still uncommon, because the labor is so replaceable. In India attractive widows under thirty can be purchased for under $100, but you gotta know somebody.
There is no nice way to build or maintain the power of one people over others, regardless of the supposed intent of the oppressor. In our new world, the most desperate group has the advantage. As Dylan sang, “The losers now will be later to win”. Get equally desperate men or get out.
I vote cut and run. Get the hell out of the complexities of the Middle East and come as far home as we can. Doing what we would have to win and maintain the advantage would kill democracy. As if it ain’t under siege now.
Thanks for listening and the great site, Hal Carpenter, Rhode Island USA
Welcome aboard. pl
It is clear that Hizb’Allah won. The Israel have achieved non of their operational goals, most of which were decided months, if not several years ago.
Hizb still have the prisoners, they still control the vast majority of the border. They seemed to have not lost any operational capability.
The Israelis never made it more than a few miles past the border. Have they even been able to retrieve the bodies of the helicopter crew shot down? The last I heard, from interviews on Arabic TV, specifically an interview with an elderly man who lived in the area concerned, that the Israelis tried four different times to get to the bodies and retreated evry time, loosing several tanks in the process.
I also saw an interview with a Syrian man who had done years in an Israeli prison, he said he intends to start a Syrian type of Hizb’Allah to fight for the Golan.
If anyone has ever seen or been to the Golan it is the ideal area for a guerilla campaign. This is the lesson learned in the Middle East, small, highly trained troops with decent material.
Expect that if this happens with Hizb’Allah a few years down the road it will be harder for the Israels. I think Hizb have proved that they provide a lot of “bang for the buck” so to speak and I think the Syrians and Iranians are going to up the cash they give and up the quality and amounts of arms they give. Why not? They have proved they are a good investment.
Hal…Thanks for sharing your thoughts..I found them interesting..As I do those of Pat and all others here..Its a constant learning and Evaluating Process..
At Least the People here THINK..
Who is dumber? Olmert for bringing a duck to a cockfight, or Bush for betting on the duck?
Here’s a poetic description from Ireland, “Poem of Gilla Bhrighde M’Conmidhe:”
“Unequal they engaged in the battle,
The foreigners and the Gaedhil of Teamhair;
Fine linen shirts on the race of Conn,
And the foreigners in a mass of iron.”
I would like to add my praise for SST to those of the others who have commented here recently. The ME was not my area of expertise those many moons ago when I was involved in Intel so I haved remained largely silent here of late. But your coverage of Ehud and Amir’s Not-So-Excellent Adventure has been the most informed discussion of this unfortunate situation available anywhere on the web. Kudos to you and to all your commenters.
There is exactly one solution to the Middle East. Only one.
A national effort on a par with WWII to conserve fossil fuels. Huge investment in research for alternative energy. Heavy taxation on fossil fuels. Regulations governing mileage on cars, truck, etc. Public transportation.
Then you get $9 a barrel oil and the whip hand. Saudi’s don’t let women get an education? Fine, we don’t need your oil.
Iraq is a colonial war to control a natural resource. There have been many of them. Iran would be the same thing. They don’t work.
You’re saying, “What about Iran’s nuclear ambitions?” The most intelligent analysis I have heard about Iran’s nuclear weapons is that if they used one, their country would be turned into a radioactive puddle in 15 minutes. The tin pot tyrants don’t like that sort of thing when it’s so much easier just to dictate to civilians.
Oh, and Israel. Hezbollah has changed the Israel equation. It is conceivable that after this experience, Israel will take a different line on Palestine. Don’t know.
What do other’s say?
Anthony Shadid’s WaPo report is a very powerful testament to the will of the HA fighters. They clearly were no rag-tag militia as their response to the cease-fire was humility about their survival.
I found the below comment by Angry Arab interesting. What other opinions are there about the ramifications to Lebanese domestic politics?
The most extreme option to disarm Hizbullah has been tried, and it did not work. What will they use now? On what power do Hariri and Jumblat puppets rely when they insist on disarming Hizbullah? They think that they will use Jumblat’s militia against Hizbullah? I really now rule out a civil war only because street battles will be won without Hizbullah having to fire one shot? I mean, could you imagine Jumblat’s militia going against Hizbullah? That will not happen. But while I have avoided commenting on Lebanese domestic politics in the last month, or not as much, I still believe that Lebanon as a project will not succeed. It is not a homeland, and never was, and never will be. It will either splinter eventually—along sectarian lines, or will be dissolved in a larger entity, especially after a democratic transformation in Syria, and the liberation of Palestine. Hariri Inc is now weaker than ever:
I am sure the IDF is going to go through a painful process of introspection and lessons learned. And probably heads will roll.
This conflict is not over. The IDF will not be able to tolerate such a slap in the face and will return. How will they perform the next time? And will HA use the same tactics or create new surprises? Will they get more sophisticated missiles to bolster their arsenal of rockets? Will Iran increase their funding of HA and upgrade the hardware they supply?
Being a former grunt (VN) myself — and knowing what I know from that experience, I wonder if I’ve also contracted Hals set of symptoms. And is there a VA %disability option available?
“It is conceivable that after this experience, Israel will take a different line on Palestine. Don’t know.” – arbogast
IMO, Israel will not change its “iron-fist” policy that they have been using with no final outcome for decades. It requires real statesmanship and willing partners for change. And as we see here at home, fear and military oriented solutions can be supported on a base of jingoistic rhetoric. I believe Israel will look at this as a “loss” to be avenged. They will not allow their “myth” of deterrence to be shattered for good. Their entire policy with their neighbors is based on this premise. And it will be a lot easier in this climate for the Likudniks to gain compared to the “peace” movement which really has no deep political roots. Bibi Netanyahu has already commenced his attacks – and its not on policy but on execution and not hitting HA hard enough. Its only a matter of time before the conflict resumes.
I have a question and a completely unrelated comment.
The question first. I had an out of the box but interesting thought: is it possible that the (assumed foregone) Hiz victory, using a combination of political, military and (to a lesser extent) terrorist techniques will actually DECREASE the attractiveness of purely terroristic techniques? What I mean is that if you look at it purely from an “enemies of freedom” (choke) point of view, Hiz has been successful: Al Qaeda has not. Also added bonus, you don’t necessarily have to die to be succcessful in a Hiz operation…. The related point is that if this victory leads to some political successes, wouldn’t that take the pressure away from pursuing more radical action? Here I’m assuming that OBL and his ilk are interested in something more than the same spoiled child ego-fulfillment GWB needs. On that note aren’t the parallels between GWB and OBL interesting regarding oil family background, sense of entitlement, religious fanaticism and general temperament?
Anyway as I initally wrote, I pathetically have to put a completely separate response to arbogast in the same comment: I can’t believe our leadership class (outside of Al Gore) doesn’t realize that the pursuit, development and implementation of alternative energy sources should be without question the absolute main goal of every economy on the planet. The global fossil fuel energy dependency is the cause of nearly every single political, environmental and economic problem faced by our species and planet and the entire world should mount a “Marshall” plan to surmount it.
You may be interested to know that some neo-cons have already called for a foriegn legion along the lines you suggest. Max Boot had an editorial in the LA Times back in 2005. Its no longer freely accessible, but here is a quote
“The military would do well today to open its ranks not only to legal immigrants but also to illegal ones and, as important, to untold numbers of young men and women who are not here now but would like to come. No doubt many would be willing to serve for some set period in return for one of the world’s most precious commodities — U.S. citizenship. Open up recruiting stations from Budapest to Bangkok, Cape Town to Cairo, Montreal to Mexico City. Some might deride those who sign up as mercenaries, but these troops would have significantly different motives than the usual soldier of fortune.”
And here’s a link to a blog post about it which contains a lot of criticisms of the idea. Its a workable solution, but morally questionable and no doubt morally corrosive to the fabric of America. But I suppose today’s elites have already shown that moral factors do not enter into their decision making.
Also, to an extent it is already happening with the contracting of mercenary business such as Blackwater. Blokes like Cheney don’t know or don’t care that they are giving up the state’s monopoly on violence with all that implies for political stability in the long run.
Best wishes for your son.
Interesting blog post here from an Israeli soldier, sounds like they were wandering around without a clue.
As far as oil is concerned, we do not need to be an imperial power in the Middle East in order for Muslims to do business with us–they will still sell us their oil. There are huge oil reserves in the tar sands and oil shale that start in Colorado and go north into Canada–probably larger than what exists in the ME. Clearly, the United States needs to change the source of its’ oil supplier; plus, the leverage that new energy technology can bring will help the U.S. maintain its economic importance. Ultimately, everyone is going to be short of oil; it is important to get an early start on dealing with it.
On a different note, the “writing is on the wall,” and if I was an Israeli Jew, I would reverse emigrate to some other place that is friendly. The “War Nerd” says it best when he says the demographics will ultimately result in the Jews losing Israel (we are talking about the larger population growth rate of the Muslim nations, and their willingness for self sacrifice). It will be another diaspora, I am sorry to say, and I think the recent debacle in Lebanon is one step in that direction.
On another note, I do not see the U.S. taking any negative messge from this debacle. I think we are still on schedule for the bombing of Iran, and I notice that Mr. Hersh has a new article in the New Yorker pointing towards that strategy.
Bob, be careful when you read Robert Fisk. He knows what he sees with his own two eyes, but then he jumps into wild flights of imagination thereafter. You have to wrestle with his prose to figure out what is true, and what is imagination. But in the end that is no different than with any other journalist, I suppose. (Note that I love Fisk’s writing, I just am aware of its limits).
Interesting editorial from the Lebanese Daily Star. To quote: “Lebanon also has a rare opportunity to strengthen its army as it extends control over Lebanese territory. Israel’s wanton destruction of Lebanon has made a very strong case to the Lebanese people for the need to have a creative and viable defense strategy. The best strategy would be one where Hizbullah’s arms and expertise were institutionalized within the Lebanese Army.”
I guess this answers the question of where the Lebanese Army can find 15,000 soldiers to deploy south of the Litani when on most days they barely have enough “soldiers” to provide everyday law enforcement functions. The new soldiers are already there and have been there for the past month. They are just waiting for their new uniforms.
arbogast, there’s a lot of good sense in your energy independence plan, sign me up.
I’m don’t think oil will drop to $9/barrel under the theory of peak oil, but your proposal certainly lowers OUR demand.
And a lot of the Iranian nuclear problem is the Ayatollahs reacting to Bush’s “Axis of Evil” regime change nonsense. They’re interested in deterring our planned attacks on them, not in using nuclear weapons on any other country.
And still there they are. Khiam was notorious during the occupation because it was at a prison there that people would be “interrogated” for their alliegances. It was kept as a museum to Israeli atrocities but I guess the Israelis were so embarrased about it they blew it up in the second day of air strikes.
People in Lebanon are in a very strange kind of limbo, doing odd things.
Jumblatts people (and for those who dont care for every detail of Lebanese politics, Jumblatt, leader of the Druze community, was one of many anti-HA at the start of war and one of about 4 politicians openly anti-HA all through it)have been turning up at the studios of HA’s tv station, demanding to go on air and praise the ressistance.
HA themselves are avoiding the temptation of attacking the Israelis even though at some points they are literaly feet apart. I’ll be the first to admit I am surprised by that. However, I think HA will only give the Israelis days and not weeks to leave before the shooting starts again. But the fact that HA is allowing people to return south without warnings of danger means that they aren’t looking to prolong this war.
I have heard some reports that now its over, opposition to HA keeping its arms is growing. However, it seems, like most things, including todays report that HA and the govt. have agreed that hidden weapons can remain in the south, are merely agitatory propaganda (not that i think any weapons will be leaving the south). The pride in Lebanon and across the Arab world at what HA has done is remarkable and although it may not seem it, it is a truly historic moment for the Arabs as the day they got their dignity back. The bad news for other Arab resistance movements from Hamas to the Iraqis, is that HA have shown that you can fight without resorting to civilian-centric attacks.
The whole Middle East conflict and the ME in genral has been brought to a crossroads. Will the people of the Arab world now look at their corrupt and, as George Galloway put it, belly dancing leaders and think why cant we have Hizbollah? Will those supine leaders in the Arab world be emboldened in their dealings with the United States? Will HA’s new found strength and popularity lead to a more united, less corrupt Lebanon or will the fear if its opponents lead to sectarian violence? Will Israel take this as a warning and choost to talk its problems out or will it return to Lebanon or aleternatively take out their macho frustrations on the poor Palestinians?
Only time will tell, and this is the ME and its abilty to surprise you with an option D when you thought only A, B or C were on the table is well known. But without a doubt what we do know today is that the ladies and gentlemen of the White House, who wished for a new Middle East, have found out what the phrase, “Be careful what you wish for” really means.
A couple of asides in regards to other posts:
As we speak.
Points 2,3 and 4. Too late Im afraid. HA already have the hospitals there, they are not only reconstructing peoples homes for free (yes they even have their own construction business), they have one-upped your idea and are paying a years rent to anyone who’s house was levelled and not only are they providing the food, they are providing the sheep and cows as well (although as far as I know they arent going so far as to throw a chef into the offer).
Points 5 and 6, You are making the mistake of believing the Israeli propaganda of rockets being in houses. Trust me, I know the area there are more natural hidey holes to hide a rocket in then there are potential UNIFIL soldiers. As for enforcing the law in the South, you would have to arrest the man, his family, his village and the next village when they hear about it. The area is so pro-HA, trying to arrest a member for anything would see you leaving the village in whatever the South Lebanese version of tarred and feathered is.
A great read. I read that the US Army is already advertising in foreign countries to give US citizenship to those who agree to enlist. I have no idea if this is true, but it certainly seems to be the road you expected.
How does this experience and the continuing “fiasco” in Iraq, reflect the vision of the quadrennial review, that the secdef has invested his view of the future of conflicts?
Could it be that an honest evaluation of these recent experiences shows that “boots on the ground” are still requied to get the job done, no matter how we wish it was not so.
With Bush making yet another “Mission Accomplished” speech, it is clear that the attack on Iran will go ahead as planned. I wonder if it will be timed to provide another shock-and-awe TV special to help the Republication party during the Congressional elections in November.
What lessons are being learnt by the various state and non-state actors in the ME from Lebanon war? Above all, how are the Hizbullah tactics likely to affect Iran’s planning for a U.S. attack? I suppose the one big lesson would be not to pit conventional military formations against the overwhelming fire power of either U.S. or Israel. Small groups of men who know the area, can operate independently and with small arms caches seems to be the way to go. But many conventional armies would have a fit at the thought; many middle-ranking and senior officers would be out of a job.
An excerpt from Paul Roger’s article “An Unfinished War” on openDemocracy (http://www.opendemocracy.net/conflict/unfinished_war_3820.jsp ):
“As a result of the Lebanon war, the recently increased insecurity in Iraq, and the continuing troubles in Afghanistan, there will be those in Washington who will urge immediate action against Iran. From such a perspective, the Israeli failure in Lebanon will result in a steady increase in Iranian influence across the region and a likely acceleration in its nuclear programme.
“Any such development remains utterly unacceptable to the Bush administration as well as Israel, so it may be better to contemplate military action against those nuclear facilities now rather than later. Moreover, such action would be a powerful diversion in the run-up to the mid-term elections to Congress in November 2006. The guns of August might yet become the bombs of October.”
I don’t think the Israelis will make the mistake of repeating their humiliation. They’ve already paid a heavy price for it in world derision. I think they’ve shot their bolt.
There was this movie I saw about a kid selling newspapers on a streetcorner in Australia during the Depression, when his parents needed the money. One day a bully drives him from the lucrative corner he’d staked out. But the kid bides his time and jumps the bully from behind, pummelling him like a demon. The kid warns the bully that he’s gonna have to fight him for the corner each and every day. Even when the kid loses one day he’ll be back the next, and the next, and the next. Well, the bully just doesn’t want the corner that badly, and he slinks away.
If Israel comes back they’re in a no win situation. If they pour divisions into South Lebanon it becomes David vs. Goliath and a long guerrilla war that they can’t win. The sheer disparity of men and weapons becomes a humiliation for them. As one Israeli put it, “How would you feel if Bush sent troops back to Vietnam?”
“He is thought to have been defeated in both battles although both could be argued to have been a “draw.”
When you are fighting without any recognized legitimacy, a draw ain’t good enough.
“A victory, using a combination of political, military and (to a lesser extent) terrorist techniques will actually DECREASE the attractiveness of purely terroristic techniques”
I think you may have a good point there, I was surprised to read that HA militants did not wear suicide belts, they wore body armour.
These guys were not planning on getting killed.
“There is exactly one solution to the Middle East. Only one.”
“A national effort on a par with WWII to conserve fossil fuels. Huge investment in research for alternative energy. Heavy taxation on fossil fuels. Regulations governing mileage on cars, truck, etc. Public transportation.”
Translation: “Develop Solar Power and Get the Hell Out of There!”
That’s been my MidEast policy for 30 years.
If I may pose a question of you and your commenters:
Do you think that Israel will attempt to carry out Olmert’s threat to assassinate Nasrallah? And what are your thoughts as to the reaction in the region, should they succeed?
My gut feeling to the first is yes, should the opportunity present itself. They have been relying on force and assassination for so long, it has become a natural reaction for them. I fear the consequences, for the whole world, should they try, let alone succeed. I think pretty much anything could happen, short of everyone in the region living happily thereafter in peace and harmony. Thoughts?
As a Lebanese-American whose Lebanese father is a product of American Protestant missionary schools, I love Ghostman’s proposal – it’s very much what I have wanted to see for South Lebanon all along. My family is in the South, outside of Sidon, not the deep South of Hizbullah. But it has seemed clear to me from my two visits to South LEbanon post-civil-war, and from the reports of my parents who lived there for a decade in the 90s, that the South was neglected for rebuilding and glitz in Beirut.
My American self has its prejudices – I love the idea of a strong “Lebanese Federal Government” presence, because I like our Federal system. It also makes sense to use money and materiel to “outhustle” Hizbullah. Part of Hizb’s popularity comes from its ability to distribute basics and provide hospitals etc.
I also agree with the poster who says let the US make itself more independent of foreign energy. This would stimulate our economy as well as free us from these entanglements in the Middle East.
But folks, you American patriots in particular – can’t you get your minds around the concept that the people of Hizbullah just love their country with a passion? they love their terrain. They love their villages, mountains, pastures, valleys and streams. My dad is a Christian LEbanese who has lived in America for almost 50 years – he too loves the land of LEbanon like he loves his own flesh. He loves South LEbanon in particular. His father used to hike all over the South on hunting expeditions, and my Dad certainly went with him more than once.
Any Southerners reading this? You *know* how people feel about the soil of their ancestors, soil they farm now.
And “Patrick Henry” – is it so hard to imagine that Hizbullah fighters and their civilian supporters might feel so desperately loyal to their land that they would fight to the death? Didn’t our American ancestors say “give me liberty or…”? (I’m half Southern American, hence the shifting references to ancestors, sorry)
One last comment – re something on a previous thread, about those underground bunkers and so forth. I don’t know much, but I know that my own village is riddled with caves that have been used by humans since before written history. Also, the Crusaders Castle in South Lebanon has its own system of tunnels and supply passages built by the Franj (Franks) in the Middle Ages. I’ve seen ’em – as a child, when this was a tourist attraction, before the civil war.
My dad’s family and others from our village hid out in caves during WWII when the British were bombing the Vichy French in Lebanon.
Why is it impossible to imagine Hizbullah setting up its own network of caves and underground bunkers and tunnels? I mean maybe the Iranians helped, but come on, why is a sophisticated bunker ipso facto evidence of foreign aid?
For one thing, every other Lebanese college boy is an engineering major. And yes these poor Shi’ite villages do send boys -and girls sometimes – to college.
Please don’t make the same mistake the Israelis do and assume that guys in robes and turbans are too dumb and backward to build bunkers, set up communication lines, program computers and so forth. My Christian Lebanese cousins who grew up in our backwater south Lebanon village with mediocre schools are all telecommunications and software industry engineers in the Gulf or the USA. Why should the Shi’i be any different?
Just sayin’. Tech savvy and strategic adaptability are not only limited to Americans or Israelis.
But if you are determined to believe that those guys are too dumb to do it on their own, therefore Iran did it, therefore let’s invade Iran…doesn’t it give you pause? ‘Cause those Iranians must be hecka smart.
EeeGads. So much amazing thought and intuition on this site.
H.G. Many have known, counterculture and mainstream, for forty years that we humans can create a more harmonious way of life, lessening dependence on petrochemical products. Motivation and dedication have not been present. How to move through that energy blockage, I don’t know. In acupuncture, the practioner diagnoses the area of excess or depletion and determines what points to needle to bring balance. The main point I sense is in need of balance is the controlled media. In Doctor’s offices, airports, diners, motels, everywhere except the forest, Friaries, school buses if the radio is ‘not working today’, the controlled media constantly fills human minds with what???? Change that, change the energy flow.
My previous response for years has been ‘ just pray and meditate. ‘ In essence it still remains.
However, this site is showing me a lot of people with experience in areas I don’t have, with strategic and tactical experience with weapons and power are insightful and intuitive and I am listening and learning.
Prior to 1956 in Hungary energy began to be created when the poets and university students met with garbage collectors and contruction people late at night in cafes. The Russians crushed them then. Now though, a relatively sane land.
Change is constant in a changeless reality. We must be the change we want to create said Gandhi.
Today that’s not so simple, as Hal suggests, especially when seeing Mr. Cheney, Blackwater, Mexican units already fighting for the US, and the idea of recruiting emigres for the American dream as fighters. EeeeGads….Or Hail Mary, or whatever a favorite prayer or mantra may be. JT
To echo Ghostman’s proposal for the massive money & aid infusion, how about the unnamed Senior Israeli official in the Akiva Eldar article saying this:
“In order to ensure that a crushed Lebanon does not fall like ripe fruit into the hands of Iran, the senior officer proposes that tomorrow morning Israel call upon the free world to declare a Marshall Plan to rehabilitate Lebanon. “We have to be the generator, in order to ensure that Iran does not pour in money and take over the country. Had we acted in this way from the start, instead of showing up raring to fight, Rice would have come here with the idea of rehabilitating Lebanon and strengthening its moderate elements.” ”
Gosh, these guys sound like me, an unreconstructed liberal who believes in state investment in infrastructure and education etc. They don’t sound at all like our lovely American warmongers (Krauthammer, Coulter et al) who want to bomb Lebanon to sand, to rubble, to the stone age, etc.
Mo- two points – I’m pleased to see your comment about the “hidey-holes” in South Lebanon. I’m a woman, essentially an American with Lebanese ties, uninterested before this in military history or tactics, and I knew about these hidey-holes. They aren’t a secret. I guess they were to the IDF. No wonder the Arab world is laughing.
Also – I looked at a map of bombs dropped on Lebanon found through a blog. I’m no Lebanese insider. Even I can tell that the only place in Lebanon that wasn’t bombed was the Chouf: Aley, Beiteddine, etc. (i.e. Druze country) As early as August 3 I was asking my cousins – where is Walid Jumblatt, why is he so quiet, and is he in cahoots with the Israelis? We all think it’s possible. I “smell” it. And now that the Israelis have “lost” or at least not “won”, Jumblatt wants to talk like he’s anti-Israel? Hmmmm
I just don’t want to see civil war again, please God. I’m concerned about Hizbullah retaliation – my Christian relatives are not sympathizers in the least. (I’m being circumspect here) We got beaten up in 1985 after the Israelis withdrew from Sidon. My grandmother was killed by a mob – possibly Palestinian, possibly Sunni Communists from Sidon- because she refused to evacuate. I don’t want to see it all over again.
One more comment on the Akiva Eldar article – I mentioned earlier my Israeli-American friend’s lament – she said there were only 20,000 troops ready for combat. I said what? I just read Israel has a half a million standing army! But she insisted that of that number, only 20,000 were actually ready to fight. Can this be true? Seems that it might be.
BT – I note your comments on Robert Fisk but he does seem from time to time to make more sense than some of the “according to a government source” boys.
Whom do you regard as reliable in the mainstream print and electronic media — or anywhere, really?
Colonel what is your opinion about last interview of president Bush in which he said that QUESTION: How can the international force, or the United States if necessary, prevent Iran from resupplying Hezbollah?
BUSH: The first step is — and part of the mandate in the U.N. resolution was to secure Syria’s borders. Iran is able to ship weapons to Hezbollah through Syria.
Secondly is to deal — is to help seal off the ports around Lebanon.
BUSH: In other words, part of the mandate and part of the mission of the troops, the UNIFIL troops, will be to seal off the Syrian border. ‘
I think that this resolution is about Lebanon. Syria is sovereign state so I don’t think that they will allow any foreign forces enter their territory. Or maybe Bush think about repeating of Ramboulliet from 90 years. Information was taken for juan cole blog
You forget that the Papal States had recognized the Confederacy. pl
I too have been in the tunnels under the Crusader Castle in Sidon and played in the caves outsde Qana as a child. Im guessing the Israelis knew about them but just couldnt do anything about them.
Jumblatt is famous for his many faces and has taken so many positions and made so many u-turns that I’m surprised he hasn’t ended up opposing himself.
Why are you concerend about HA retaliation? For what? There have been people caught spraying “targets” with phosphourous paint but I donth think anyone has made an issue of their religion. After the Israeli withdrawl of 2000 it was HA that made sure there was no retaliation against the Christian villages in the South who had been seen to be collaborating with Israel.
As for civil war, HA has made alliances with Aoun and has strong support in the Sunni community, and lets face it, if you are a militia opposing HA, would you want to take them on after what they have just achieved?
Nasrallah won’t be making any kind of power play so I don’t think a civil war is even a remote possibility to be honest.
Your right Fisk does see things others are hard pressed to find. However, many times his flights of fantasy have turned out to be true. But I guess at the end of the day, I dont think or I dont know of, an English language journalist with more integrity in telling the truth about wrongs, no matter who is doing the deed.
@Piotr – Bush has at least two things wrong. Of course the resolution does not speak of the Syrian, but the Lebanese boarder.
The UN resolution was also not to secure Lebanons boarder. The Lebanon government may request help from UNIFIL to do prevent arms shipment accross those boardes.
But I don´t think they will ever do so.
Same goes for ports.
1701 is here
The Israeli leadership has taken much abuse on this website for the many poor decisions they have made. And rightly so.
However, let’s not overlook the fact that, in the end, Olmert (finally) made a good choice: U-turn and get the heck out of there. Cut ‘n’ run.
He realized he was in a hole and decided to stop digging.
I wish our own leaders could learn from this.
“As far as oil is concerned, we do not need to be an imperial power in the Middle East in order for Muslims to do business with us–they will still sell us their oil.”
We DO need to be an imperial power in order to deny that oil to our enemys…whoever that happens to be.
Mo – I wasn’t aware of tunnels beneath the Sidon castle, which sits on an island in the harbor. It has tunnels???
I was speaking of Chateau Beaufort, overlooking the Israeli border. I should have been more precise. That castle has at least one tunnel that drops six hundred feet to the river far below.
a note to people who speak about the need for “energy independence” as a way for the US to disentangle from volatile regions such as the ME. Burning is only one thing that you can do with oil. Oil, and other hydrocarbons are used as chemical feedstocks in the production of plastics, pharmaceuticals, fertilizers, etc. Even if we had all the “alternative” energy that we need oil in the ME and elsewhere would still be the “greatest material prize” on Earth. If we want to maintain our lifestyles we must have oil, and lots of it!
Leila, well, passageways below the ground floor yes, not sure if they are technically tunnels.
Your lucky you got to visit Beaufort before the Israelis blew it up!
from Zanzibar’s post:
If Israel comes back they’re in a no win situation. If they pour divisions into South Lebanon it becomes David vs. Goliath and a long guerrilla war that they can’t win. The sheer disparity of men and weapons becomes a humiliation for them. As one Israeli put it, “How would you feel if Bush sent troops back to Vietnam?”
Now there’s something GWB hasn’t thought of doing yet….let’s keep this thought VERY quiet please.
Sorry – that was Montag’s post, not Zanzibar’s…
are you serious? My understanding is that guerrillas and states are buying or stealing (bunkering) oil whenever they want.
Which “enemies” did you mean? And how have we been able to keep them from oil in the past?
Check out the Oil Drum and John Robb on Nigeria for more detail.
I like the idea of a Marshall Plan for Lebanon–so long as it is paid for with money normally given to Israel. I am so sick to death of our country having to pay for Israel’s violence. Isn’t the vandal normally responsible for his own damages? Look at the future: the strategic sand is shifting and Israel will be fighting and dying for well over a generation. After 60 years if the Zionist project can’t sustain itself, well, too bad. Let’s cut our losses now.
“Hiz victory, using a combination of political, military and (to a lesser extent) terrorist techniques will actually DECREASE the attractiveness of purely terroristic techniques?” – HG
“The bad news for other Arab resistance movements from Hamas to the Iraqis, is that HA have shown that you can fight without resorting to civilian-centric attacks.” – Mo
The above comments by H.G. and Mo are worth pondering. Does HA tactics and the fact their fighters were interested in surviving the battle to fight another day by not wearing “suicide belts” cause Hamas and Al-Aqsa and Islamic Jihad and other Palestinian militias to change their tactics? Would they turn to HA for advise and reorganize to become a more defensive force with a primary focus on defending their territory? Can they actually accomplish this considering that IDF is in such close proximity and the surveillance of Gaza and the West Bank is probably much higher than southern Lebanon?
On oil, the Canadians have said that they’ll send us all we want at below-market prices (whether that assurance is constitutional under the Canadian system is another question). The Athabaska Tar Sands are supposed to have more oil than the entire Middle East, although something like half has to be burned in order to get the rest. Huge investments are being made there right now, in the billions.
For bush and Rice and the non-neocon bushies, I believe the game is to control the flow of oil out of the region from Saudi Arabia northwest to the Caspian. It’s the only world source that rivals Canada (secondarily Siberia), it’s the one that’s producing most now, and it’s closest to the big new users in India and China.
They don’t necessarily want to own it but they do want to dictate who gets to use it and under what terms. (“The Decider.”) Hence their fury at the Iranian deals with China.
This is where bush’s personal concerns intersect with neocon thinking. But the bush crowd would just as soon see all the people around that oil disappear if they won’t allow themselves to be controlled. Classic western natural-resource-extraction types.
The neocons, on the other hand, almost seem to believe the “we are all Jeffersonians under the skin” line they spout. They need to think more deeply. Stalin was no sweetie-pie but he was also no dummy; he didn’t allow free elections in Poland because he knew that any freely-elected nationalist government in Poland would be anti-Soviet and he didn’t want Poland to be the western ally on his doorstep.
In the same way, given past American policies, any genuine Canadian or Mexican democracy will naturally be anti-American to some degree, and any genuinely democratic Iraq will be anti-Israeli and now anti-American. Democratic government is not the same thing as loving America and American behavior in the world.
What they really believe is that when people become consumers they won’t care about politics anymore. That’s a crock too.
Leila, thanks for your posts. They raise a question for me– our “leaders” talk so assuredly about how closely HA is tied to Iran and Syria. Well, is it really? That’s what their predecessors used to say about Tito, and about Mao before him. Surely HA is just as capable of using the Iranians as vice versa? And why wouldn’t they have their own sources of supply besides? The world is awash in arms for sale.
That must be why everybody gaped when bush told Blair (between lip smacks) that Assad should just pick up the phone and all this sh*t would be over.
Who could ever believe in that kind of rigid hierarchy and control, except an unsuccessful American manager?
“I don’t think the Israelis will make the mistake of repeating their humiliation. They’ve already paid a heavy price for it in world derision. I think they’ve shot their bolt.” – Montag
Good point. Do you think however that this makes their “deterrence” premise moot at least with respect to HA? If military superiority and military force is no longer a credible threat to HA then they will have to rethink their strategy of the past decades. That will be a major change of posture.
They already have, by resorting to calling in the UN, whom they despise, and the Lebanese Army, which is, well the Lebanese Army. Another reason not to go back in is that the IDF has concocted the old “stab in the back” myth, whining that they could have won if the politicians hadn’t tied their hands. This will be the official rationale for their loss. Now if they go back in with a loose civilian rein and lose again, then they don’t have even the myth to console themselves with.
Don’t believe me? In 1973 the Israelis believe that they could have captured Damascus except that an Iraqi armored brigade was in the way against two Israeli divisions. In reality their soldiers were falling asleep every time their vehicles stopped and their momentum had just stalled out. They wouldn’t have known what to do with Damascus anyway. But they still blame that Iraqi brigade as if it was Horatius at the bridge.
A few months ago the Israelis made a movie, “Beaufort,” about the 2000 withdrawal and demolition of the Crusader castle. The movie showed Israeli soldiers in a less than heroic light, like they couldn’t wait to get back over the Blue Line. Some of the actors had actually evaded military conscription (it’s not difficult), which caused some grumbling among the officers who were advising the production. The movie had to be made at a Crusader ruin in the Golan Heights.
zanzibar, I think HA and Hamas already have some sort of communication structure. You are right, in that HA had the luxury of not being surrounded by the IDF, but they do know the terrain as well as HA knows theirs. They are just not as professional in their methods and practice, basically they have no discipline, a problem the Palestinians have had since the PLO. One small example, how many times have you seen Hamas gunmen on the street on tv and think about the last time you saw armed HA on the streets of Lebanon. You didnt even see armed HA in the south of Lebanon before the war, which of course makes the whole disarming HA in the south quite funny.
Ze’ev Schiff wrote in Haaretz on August 11 that we had “gotten a slap.” It seems that “knockout” would be a more appropriate description. This is not a mere military defeat. This is a strategic failure whose far-reaching implications are still not clear. And like the boxer who took the blow, we are still lying dazed on the ground, trying to understand what happened to us. Just like the Six-Day War led to a strategic change in the Middle East and established Israel’s status as the regional power, the second Lebanon war may bring about the opposite. The IDF’s failure is eroding our national security’s most important asset – the belligerent image of this country, led by a vast, strong and advanced army capable of dealing our enemies a decisive blow if they even try to bother us. This war, it soon transpired, was about “awareness” and “deterrence.” We lost the fight for both.
Montag: as the above report shows the recriminations have begun. This one excoriates the IDF and questions the $11 billion Israeli defense budget. Compared to the reported $100 million that Iran provides HA its orders of magnitude larger. Iran must be pleased at their return on investment.
Mo: Your observation about the discipline and secrecy of HA fighters is well taken. What is impressive is that even after the cease-fire they were not out in the streets gloating. What were the dynamics that led to such a disciplined HA militia? Can a Palestinian organization like Hamas evolve to what the HA is today?
Will Isreal’s failure in South Lebanon lead the US to rethink its planning for a conflict with Iran? Iran has had twenty years with the resources of a large modern state to prepare its territory along the strait of Hormuz for defence. They clearly have grasped the tactical value of not being seen. Can anyone still believe that the US can surpress Iran’s anti-ship missiles with air power alone.
Altoid: If I had to guess I’d say that HA is linked to Iran in exactly the same way Vietnam was linked to China, happy to take their guns and money, but would turn on them in a second if they decided to try and dictate policy.
The one thing that intrigues me about Hezbollah’s organization, that hasn’t been talked about much that I can see is what kind of intellegence and counterintellegence operations they have. According to alot of the reports I read, Israel maintains a network of colaborators in the West Bank and Gaza, and that’s part of why they’re able to be so effective with their targeted assasinations and attacks on Palestinian leadership.
Now it may be that the IDF’s intellegence department simply wasn’t any more skilled than their counterparts in the ground forces, and simply couldn’t crack a competant and dedicated opponent. However, if groups like Hezbollah are starting to figure out how to to counterintellegence, that’ll mean serious trouble in the future. Not just for Israel either, but any of the gulf states which rely on their intellegence services to keep a lid on unrest.
Well, both sides ‘remained on the battlefield’. Hizbollah have won a victory in terms of being greatly admired, to say the least, by those in their cultural diaspora, including many in Lebanon. Israel has ‘successfully’ crippled the social infrastructure of much of the entire country, successfully summoned the world to help clean up its mess, managed to have UN forces in place to pacify the country which SHE invaded and NOT have pacification troups within her own borders. Last but not least, in the event of a wider conflagration (i.e. versus Syria or Iran or even Gaza etc.), Hizbollah’s ability to function as a check on Israel, or even threaten a serious flank attack from the North, is severely degraded.
The real question is: why did Israel chose this time to turn a rather typical soldier-capturing tit-for-tat situation into a massive attack on the infrastructure of the entire country? That was clearly pre-planned, has nothing to do with the threat or terrorist logic (which of course is just public-consumption level rhetoric).
So: why did they attack now? And what were their aims? Hizbollah’s aims were (perhaps) simply to defend. Were they getting ready for a major attack and invasion of Israel? I have read nothing to suggest this and therefore suspect that their main mission is what they say it is to be, namely act as a creditable defensive force. Assuming HA was not about to invade and that the Israelis did not believe this to be the case, why did they choose to cripple Lebanon now?
And assuming they did so, is it not possible that this was done to create a temporary window of opportunity?
To my mind, that is the most interesting issue at hand strategically speaking.
I don’t know of any evidence that HA capabilities are seriously degraded other than Israeli assertions. Let’s wait and see before deciding.
Airmen generally are full of hot air about having destroyed their targets. They usually report as destroyed anything they attack. pl
“You forget that the Papal States had recognized the Confederacy.” pl
Heh. Touche, Colonel.
Unfortunately for the Confederacy, the Papacy wasn’t known for it’s naval prowess any more than for its divisions.
Grimgrin: Yeah, I agree– they’ve got their own aims and if the Iranians got high-handed they wouldn’t have a problem turning on them as imperialists.
But I don’t know what kind of real intelligence capabilities HA needed this time. The Israelis were very obvious, in part of course because they couldn’t get through their own minefields and because they were further restricted by the terrain. Hasn’t HA been setting up little skirmishes for several years to study the responses? Unless I’m missing something, there wasn’t much new they needed to know tactically.
The problem of what the Israelis needed to know but didn’t is more complicated. As Leila said, everybody in creation knows about the tunnels and bunkers there.
Fundamentally I see it this way: Olmert (in my estimation at least) is, and Halutz seems to be, both very stupid. Plus, the Israelis have not been fighting anyone with real weapons for a very long time. They were complacent and contemptuous.
On the other hand, HA has been very busy on many levels and has developed and applied a comprehensive theory of counter-hegemonic tactics, combining military and political. Territorially these are defensive, but politically they go far beyond Lebanon in their effects.
I think what they’ve done over the last month comes more from that theory and from observation than from actually fooling the Israelis or getting information *from* them.
I keep thinking of what Robert Mason wrote about the Air Cav. How did the VC know they were coming? One day when he was grounded he realized that helicopters are noisy as hell.
Most of what happened in Lebanon has been hidden from Israelis. They’ll learn more over the next few weeks. And I think, or maybe just hope, that the many smart Israelis will understand the scale of this disaster for them, both militarily and in what they did to Lebanon, and move to do something smart about it. Putting Olmert in the burial detail would be a good start, IMHO, although he would learn nothing from it.
When Defense Minister Amir Peretz took office four months ago, Hezbollah and the missile threat were at the bottom of the priority list senior IDF officers presented him, Peretz says.
In private conversations over the past few days, Peretz said officers did not tell him there was a strategic threat to Israel, and did not present him with all relevant information about the missile threat.
IDF didn’t warn me of missile threat
Re Beaufort – yes I should have said the castle “had” tunnels. I looked into one in August of 1974, as a twelve-year-old. We were led about by a Palestinian who was the sentry, a jovial fellow dressed in jogging shorts. I am aware that the Israelis destroyed it, I didn’t know it was in 2000; I thought the castle had sustained damage before that. Whatever. It’s a shame.
HA was born in the midst of both an occupation and a civil war, a civil war they did not intend to take part in. I think this set the scene for the requirement of discipline, in order to primarily fend off Israeli intelligence and not be dragged into Lebanons civil war.
The PLO was probably also a factor. HA would have noted that over 40 years they had had 0 success and would have noted how undisciplined they were.
Can a Hamas evolve into this? I think they are trying but they need a sea change in the mentality of the Palestinian fighter himself. While a member of HA sees his role as defender of his own land and is a group that is seen to give to the people rather than itself, the Palestinian youth still see being a member of a group like Hamas as prestigious and a way to get “their” people better jobs and benefits. Ironic to use an American phraseology, but they won’t evolve into an HA until they ask what they can do for their people and not what their people can do for them.
HA’s intelligence and counterintelligence has been running circles round the Israelis since the early 90’s. HA have lured Israeli commandos into traps on many occasions through counterintelligence. As for Israeli intelligence, I’ll just say that 3 of the civilians they took in their “daring” raid on Baalbeck had the surname of Nasrallah….
HA may dream of the liberation of “Occupied Palestine” but an invasion? There isn’t even a remote possibility of them thinking of the remote possibility of an invasion. According to most reports I’ve read, this attack was to remove from the Israels nothern border any threat that may stay the hand of the US administrations attack on Iran. How the IDF failure affects this plan is beyond my reasoning due to the never-never land Bush and Cheyney inhabit.
The fact that this attack destroys a country that could potentialy act as a competitor in the toursim business is a bonus and maybe, but I doubt it, Israel may have expected to gain access to the waters of the Litani as part of the conditions of the expected victory.
Vietnam was China’s client and still clashed with China when the latter tried to impose it’s will on them. In this sense the Sino-Vietnamese war was the tomb stone of the domino theory.
Doesn’t seem to have reached D.C. The global Iranian-Syrian-Al Quaeda conspiracy dorks at WH/ VPO and Pentagon should keep in mind that there is a difference between unity and synergy or sympathy.
Their template could be them and the oh-so noble Kurds. The Kurds even lend their militias to fight with their state sponsor US – and all the time they are pursuing their interest and would turn on their sponsor if neccessary. The Kurd’s tripwire would be the US actively opposing and obstructing their dreams of national independence.
I am certain that Hezbollah also has a tripwire for breaking with Iran or Syria.
Pat, I read somewhere years ago that artillery (which is what airpower is a modern form of) can rarely degrade much more than 30% of a dug-in military opponent. Curious: would you agree generally? In any case, VN should have taught us that lesson.
It can, though, destroy the functional capability of plenty of civilian infrastructure so that a population’s ability to organise the basics of food, shelter, supplies, commerce etc. collapses. In this regard, the Allied bombing campaigns against the Germans in WW II were successful,although boots still had to go in on the ground to finish the job. That job was certainly not finished by Israel in this case and HA is still standing. Indeed, Israel only managed to make progress on the ground by violating the spirit of the agreement and charging forward at the last minute before HA had a chance to gradually surround them and pick them off had no cease-fire been in place. So it was a very dubious move seemingly.
It is too soon to say, of course, since the dust has not yet settled and also what is actually going on in there right now post cease-fire is not being reported in any depth. But I very much doubt that once there are 15,000 extra international troups in there, no matter how incompetent (because the interests of their governments will be beholden to what happens to them in the event of another flare-up), plus the same number of Lebanese Army personnel, that HA will be able to operate as effectively. Perhaps defensively in the event of another attack, sure; but my point was that they cannot do much offensively, and probably much less now than a month ago following the recent engagements and upcoming (surreal) arrangements coming on line.
Too soon to say, practically speaking, but still worth considering.
MO: I agree about the HA invasion intention. Supposedly Israel is attacking in order to prevent one, hence the issue. So defensively, they are politically stronger (perhaps) now, bruised, and psychologically all-victorious.
Re Hamas: the Palestinians lived in policed, highly crowded refugee enclaves (highest pop. density in the world in Gaza). They don’t have the ability to develop a network of bunkers so close to their overseers and in the midst of such a rabbit warren.
Re Hamas, your absolutely right and even in the west bank I would say its highly unlikely they would be able to build a serious network like HA’s. However, they have built tunnels (including the one used to capture the IDF soldier) so there is potential. What I was saying is they need much more discipline and to learn, like HA to best use the environment they inhabit.
PL-Yeah, Nazi Armaments Minister Albert Speer is very critical of the Allied strategic bombing campaign in his memoir, “Inside The Third Reich.” He didn’t understand how they could bomb targets and then let them quickly recover without bombing them again to keep them on their knees. Speer got a shock when the Luftwaffe pulled the same stunt:
“Perhaps the enemy air staffs overrated the effects. Our Air Force General Staff also concluded from aerial photographs that an attack on a Soviet synthetic rubber factory in the fall of 1943 had completely wiped out production for many months to come. I showed these photos to our leading synthetic rubber specialist, Hoffmann, the manager of our plant in Huls, which had undergone much more severe attacks. After pointing out various key sections of the plant which had not been hit, he explained that the plant would be in full production again within a week or two.”
Ash: The 30% figure doesn’t seem at all unreasonable. Look at WW1 for a good example or the limits of artillery. Week long barrages consisting of a million of more shells fired against enemy trenches were commonplace in that war. To my knowledge those preparatory artillery barrages never succeded in breaking hardened defenses.
Well, here is commentary – perhaps old hat to you guys on this refreshingly sober, insighful venue (thanks Colonel) – echoing what I was going on about, from globalresearch.ca.
“Dick Cheney orchestrated Israel’s losing war against Hizbullah by authorizing George Bush and Condoleezza Rice to encourage Ehud Olmert to launch the war against Lebanon as a prelude to America’s forthcoming war against Iran.
Following briefings from top Israeli military officials, Cheney approved plans for an air war against Lebanon as a preliminary move to disarm Hizbullah in advance of America’s broader military objective – to launch an air war against Iran. Had the US launched its war against Iran without Olmert’s intervention in Lebanon, Hizbullah would have been free to attack Israel. Cheney’s plan was designed to disarm Hizbullah, but it was based on what now appears to have been a false assumption – that Israel would win their war in Lebanon.
According to Seymour Hersh, Israel’s tactical profile for disarming Hizbullah was modelled on US plans to disarm Iran. Following Cheney’s guidance, the Pentagon mapped out a comprehensive campaign of air strikes against Iran’s civilian infrastructure targeting airports, bridges, roads, power stations as well as military command and control centres and other key buildings identified as hostile territory. According to a former senior intelligence official who talked to Hersh, Israel’s attack on Lebanon and Hizbullah is a “mirror image” of US plans for its imminent war with Iran.
Responding to the pressure of time, Cheney and his circle of advisors urged the Israelis to launch their war against Lebanon at the earliest date possible in order to allow the US war against Iran to launch during George Bush’s presidency. Apparently, now that Israel has dealt its blow against Hizbullah, Bush and Cheney feel less constrained about ordering their war against Iran.
A former diplomat who talked to Hersh predicted that the Iran crisis “will really start at the end of August, when the Iranians will say no (sic),” to a UN deadline to halt their uranium enrichment project.
During the autumn campaign for midterm elections, it is becoming increasingly likely that Cheney will encourage Bush to order the launch of the Iran War – a ploy designed to rekindle support for their neoconservative strategy for world domination.”
Rabbit warren thoughts II: perhaps part of the reason that HA managed not only discipline and commendable esprit de corps, but also the ability to shield their activities is precisely (like the IRA militant wing) because they are organisationally and to a certain extent geographically ‘discrete’ from overall Lebanese governance. We shall see if the ‘international community”s attempt via the US-dominated UN will be able to ‘assimilate’ them into a more workable, and thus far less effective, nationally unified situation.
My bet is that this will fail.