The Israelis lost in Lebanon

Lebmap "The outcome of the war, still a matter of perceptions, reveals both the strengths and weaknesses of Hezbollah, perhaps the world’s best-organized guerrilla group. The movement, even by the admission of its leaders, misjudged the Israeli response. But by virtue of its complex infrastructure and preparations — years spent digging tunnels, positioning weapons, upgrading its arsenal and carrying out surveillance along the border — Hezbollah survived.

"We were always prepared because we always knew that the day would come when we have to fight this war," said Hussein Hajj Hassan, a Hezbollah member of parliament. "We also knew that God was with us. He was with us."

Timur Goksel, a former spokesman and adviser to the U.N. peacekeeping force in Lebanon, put it more bluntly: "Hezbollah did not expect this response, but they were ready for it.""  Anthony Shadid/Washpost


A bit of trivia – Nizar Abd el-Khadir who is mentioned in the article was my classmate at the US Army War College in 1984-85.


Apologists for Israel’s failure in this campaign will try to spin the surprise suffered by Hizbullah to mean defeat.

It is nothing like that.  In fact, the surprise of the ferocity and persistence of the Israeli riposte makes even more significant the Hizbullah recovery under extreme pressure and the quality of the defense they mounted.

Claims for Israeli "victory" in the Lebanon campaign continue to puzzle me:

– Strategic Victory?  Israel did not force the Lebanese government to carry out the "tasks" that it had in mind for it.  It is not disarming Hizbullah.  It is not preventing re-supply of Hizbullah.

– Diplomatic Victory?  The multinational force is there, but doing little that the Israelis would want.  This time the French have brought tanks with them.  Do you think it is the Lebanese Army or Hizbullah that inspired that deployment?  No.  The French have long experience of what the IDF has done with tanks vis a vis UN Forces.

– Operational Level Victory?  (campaign level) The Hizbullahis still have a lot of rockets and are still in southern Lebanon where they could start shooting into the Galilee.  The Hizbullahis fired more rockets into Israel on the last day of the war than on any previous day.  Conclusion:  The Israelis did not succeed in stopping rocket fire into Israel. 

– Tactical Victory?  Where?

Lebanonwaraitaroun Israeli and associated political warfare is trying to spin this set of defeats into victory.  Good luck to them.

Pat Lang

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52 Responses to The Israelis lost in Lebanon

  1. arbogast says:

    What Colonel Lang’s post fails to mention is that Israel was blatantly guilty of war crimes in its campaign against Hezbollah.
    1) The thousands of bomblets that now litter Southern Lebanon.
    2) Indiscriminate saturation bombing of civilian centers and infrastructure having nothing whatever to do with Hezbollah.

  2. W. Patrick Lang says:

    Yes. I did fail to mention that. I try to make my comments as analytically neutral on matters of inhumanity as I can manage.
    I leave the rest to you. pl

  3. zanzibar says:

    Nir Rosen’s perspective.
    Hizb Allah, Party of God
    In the wake of Israel’s 33-day war with Hizballah, the 24-year-old Islamic movement has become the most popular political party in the Middle East. Here’s why that shouldn’t worry us.

  4. Jaime Gormley says:

    The Israeli’s lost in Lebanon. This is so.
    Anyone who’s had the enlightening experience of reading Maj. Christopher Whiting’s 2001 Masters Thesis “When David Became Goliath” for the U. S. Army Command and General Staff College would’ve been shocked and surprised if there had been any other resolution to the conflict. Maj. Whiting’s insights, organization and writing are in a class by themselves. The application of these skills to this particular subject makes the work a major treasure in the literature of this sorry affair. Don’t take my word for it. Tole lege:
    It remains for future excavators of the regions troubles to mine, refine and forge other artifacts of enlightenment on two subjects:
    1. The degradation of the IDF consequent to it’s multigenerational role enforcing the occupation of Palestinian territories acquired in ’67.
    2. The degradation of the IDF consequent to it’s increased reliance on the spurious revolution in military affairs and primacy of military hardware over people and ideas.
    Thank you for directing our attention to the recent installment of the Israeli-Hizb’Allah conflict. I believe it to be the most important and illustrative conflict on the planet. But that’s just me.

  5. zanzibar says:

    It is to be expected that “Israeli and associated political warfare is trying to spin this set of defeats into victory”.
    What choice does the propaganda machine have? The combatants know the results. The spin is for the consumption of the American public to continue to support the Israeli ME project. The Israeli and ME public have a far better understanding of the outcome of the recent IDF-HA conflict.
    We did have a thread sometime back “what benefit does the US derive from its absolute support of Israel”. Israel and its backers in the US don’t want an open debate here on what is the US national interest in the ME and where does Israel fit in that.
    When “realism” in policy returns to the US, we’ll see if such a debate occurs. I am not holding my breath.

  6. zanzibar says:

    I was struck by this comment.
    “They don’t attempt adventures. They’re not adventurous types,” Goksel said. In every operation, they would project “what it means for Shiites, what it means for the party, what it means for Lebanon, what it means for Syria.”
    Was it just a miscalculation on HA’s part or was there a strategic rationale that we don’t know yet?

  7. arbogast says:

    I have now read Shadid’s article in the Washington Post.
    It is monstrous. It is a loathsome abomination that, I believe, was written at Mossad headquarters.
    The thrust of the article is that Hezbollah incorrectly predicted Israel’s response to its seizing of two Israeli soldiers, and, in doing so, inflicted on itself a military and political defeat.
    Colonel Lang has dealt with the issue of whether Hezbollah was defeated.
    We come then to Hezbollah’s miscalculations. In the first place, it must be stated clearly and emphatically that Hezbollah’s firing rockets into civilian centers in Israel is a war crime. It is an act of terror. There is no justification for it.
    But Israel’s “response” dwarfs into insignificance any action by Hezbollah. Israel has committed war crimes in Lebanon, war crimes that should be punished under international law. Halutz should be in jail.
    The article parrots the original Israeli line: “We will force Lebanon to turn against Hezbollah by indiscriminant bombing of civilian centers and infrastructure.” It didn’t work in Lebanon; it won’t work in the pages of the Washington Post; and it won’t work anywhere in the world outside the US and Israel.
    I should add that I have attempted to follow Lebanese politics to the extent that I am able to, which is slight. It is absolutely true that Hezbollah is looked upon with some degree of distrust and enmity North of the Litani. But South of the Litani it is all the people have.

  8. confusedponderer says:

    you left out that the bomblets were strayed when the war was basically over – in the last three to four days of the war.
    The Israelis know their dud rates. I think they were aware of what they were doing.
    As far as the destruction of civilian infrastructure is concerned, and of housing in face of the rapidly approaching winter, the effective mining of parts of southern lebanon suggests a concerted effort of collective punishment directed against the Lebanese people, to force them against Hezbollah. That has soundly failed.
    Collective punishment is considered a warcrime in itself since 1945. Israel’s bombing of Lebanon is killing inevitably, quiet and slow, but just as deliberate as, say, a mass execution of arbitrary civilians. Doing it (indiscriminately) from the air gives Israel the advantage of deniability … ‘It was a technical defect …’
    Hezbollah will recover. Israel has bought time at the expense of politically strengthening it’s antagonist. It achieved no decision or solution, has wrecked political support in the world (except for the US) and have demonstrated that their army can be beat.

  9. TheREALLuch says:

    Being rather old-fashioned, and infantry-minded, I took it that Israel lost by the classic yardstick: Hezbollah still holds the ground.

  10. W. Patrick Lang says:

    It is not as bad as that. Shadid is clever and subtle as many Arabs are. Read it again. pl

  11. greenpiper says:

    Addressing the 4 points you proffered here, it seems reasonable to assume that what Israel did glean from their recent war with Lebanon was needed intelligence on the strength, weaponry, and a good handle on the positioning of Hezbollah. Without disrespecting the horror of this war, one could say that Israel obtained exactly what it wanted — good military intelligence.

  12. W. Patrick Lang says:

    1- You are an un-skilled but enthusiastic Israeli propagandist.
    2- You are an idiot.
    3- You are a very clever person (or dog) with a wonderful ironic sense of humor.
    In any event, the Izzies will have no trouble finding them the next time pl

  13. confusedponderer says:

    a four week, 15.000+ man and 350 sortie per day intelligence operation. Reconaissance by fire.
    Sure, Israel had set goals: Crushing Hezbollah (-), destroying the missile threat (-), getting their two soldiers back (-) and so forth. Why? As a ruse. It was part of Israel’s original plan to finally pull the rabbit out of the hat: ‘Gotcha Hezbollah, it was only reconaissance, and now we know where you are … harrr-harrr …!’. Strategic deception.
    The next attack will be even more successful.

  14. sonic says:

    Addressing the 4 points you proffered here, it seems reasonable to assume that what Germany did glean from their recent battle at Stalingrad was needed intelligence on the strength, weaponry, and a good handle on the positioning of the Red army.
    Without disrespecting the horror of this war, one could say that Germany obtained exactly what it wanted — good military intelligence.

  15. Mo says:

    An interesting read if a little confused. The writer is obviously impressed by Hizbullahs preparedness for the war, but wants to make a big deal of its failure to anticipate the response. But before I get into that, there are a couple of errors in the article I would like to point out.
    Firstly, he says that after the Syrian withdrawl in September 2004, Hezbollah was left relatively isolated. If anything, Hizbullah gave the Syrians cover in Lebanon, and contrary to many claims, they would not like to see them back. Ending corruption in govt. is one of Hizbullahs main manifesto issues and a Syrian presence would scupper that.
    Secondly, he says “Hezbollah’s leadership sometimes waited days to evacuate the poor, densely populated neighborhood in southern Beirut that is its stronghold”. This is quite profoundly untrue. 24 hours after the Israeli leaflet drop saying the area was to be bombed, Hizbullah had cleared the entire neighbourhood, and not only cleared it, but had records of where every person had gone! For evidence of that, one simply needs to look at the casulty figure from the neighborhood.
    Now for the action and reaction.
    Historically, Hizbullah, and especially Nasrallah, have said in open speeches, that Sharon reneged on a deal that would have seen the last of the Lebanese prisoners returned and that they would now have to capture Israeli soldiers – And it should be noted here that for all their supposed terrorist tendancies it has always been soldiers and not civlians – to bargain with.
    On the 12th of July, an opportunity arose for just such a capture. What were Hizbullah’s calculations for the response of such a capture?
    In the article, Mr Shadid says that in a meeting on the 8th of June, Nasrallah made it clear what range of weapons Hizbullah had at its disposal. Considering the secrecy of Hizbullah and the, lets say, dubious affiliations of those he was addressing, he would only have said it so that the Israelis would know.
    It has been much documented that Lebanon lost a vast amount of income as a result of the summer war, but what hasn’t been documented as much is that tourism also plays a vital (if not as vital) a role in the Israeli economy. Hizbullah will have believed that the Israeli govt. would not have risked taking that kind of hit on their own economy.
    We also know that Nasrallah stated, before the articles in the SF Chronicle and the New Yorker, that they knew an Israeli attack was planned for October, after the end of the tourist season.
    So taking the above points into account, Hizbullah probably believed a summer war was as unappealing to Israel as it was to Lebanon and may have also believed that taking the soldiers in July may have drawn the sting out of any pretext for an October attack; Which is probably where the miscalculation comes in. What I think they underestimated was the importance of the attack, especially to the US administration and that by taking the sting out of any planned pretext for an October attack they forced the hand of those planning the attack. As a result however, it seems the Israelis were far less ready for a war than Hizbullah were!
    As for an Israeli victory, I have had the figures for the loss of life and infrastructre of Lebanon against those of Israel repeated to me ad nauseam. The whole who won argument is something I now answer with two questions:
    1- Of the 4000 rockets fired into Israel why are the targets of only a handful verifiable?
    2- Lebanon has to mourn the people it lost and rebuild its infrastrucure. Israel has to mourn its dead but its military reputation as an unbeatable army is forever gone, its moral reputaion for its war crimes will forever haunt them and its political system is in chaos. Which position would you rather be facing?
    While I absolutely agree that “firing rockets into civilian centers” is wrong I would ask that perhaps you should look into where Israels major military centers are placed, and furthermore, considering a good proportion of civilian deaths in Israel were of Arabs, you should look at why that was.
    If you are interested, have a look at
    Because of Israel’s press censorship laws, it is impossible for the media to discuss the locations of Israel’s military installations. But according to many reports Hizbullah’s rockets were accurate enough to show that many were intended for the army’s sites in the Galilee, but considering the limitations, may not always have hit them.
    Secondly, for factual reasons I would like to point out that Hizbollahs missile attacks were the response to Israel’s and not vice versa. Israels “response” was to the capture of the two soldiers.
    Israeli has not managed to outwit, outsmart or get any kind of intelligence handle over Hizbullah in a quarter of a century. I seriously doubt a month of war, a war where they were outsmarted, out-manouvered and out-witted at every turn will fill them with any kind of confidence.

  16. holy says:

    my my what a lover of facts
    mr. Mo let me tell u, u will have no future in the american press, don’t even bother trying

  17. zanzibar says:

    Mo, you have some good points about if it was a miscalculation or not. One reason why the miscalculation meme has had such traction is Nasrallah’s own statement that he did not expect the ferocity of the response and may have decided otherwise in hindsight. At the same time Nasrallah in a speech during the conflict mentioned the Oct surprise attack plan which was reinforced by the SF Chronicle story and others.
    My sense is that the Israeli response was predicated on a) Halutz new theories of air power to bring Lebanon and HA to its knees b) Olmert/Peretz wanting to show they were tough c) Bush/Cheney believing the IDF myth and wanting a decisive military victory that they have not been able to achieve in Iraq. Its also likely that the Oct surprise plan may have some validity considering that this is an election year. If that is true then HA’s pre-emptive action had some strategic basis, although the Lebanese have paid a big price. However, HA seem to have also gained politically and now have a wider ME appeal. I am not convinced this conflict is over unless Jim Baker can sow the seeds for a new beginning bringing Iran and Syria to the table. And the Likudniks can be kept at bay.

  18. Will says:

    I haven’t read Shadid yet but know he is strong per his name(Arabic Shadid=strong).
    Wikipedia, like the U.S. Congress is Israel occupied territory. After the Col.’s Tabouleh line analysis, it was clear who won. I started making edits to the WP article only to get reversed or watered down. First former defense minister Moshe Arens said Israel lost. Deleted, not notable, who cares what HE thinks? Then Bush makes his comments and is contradicted by his own staff, CBS runs a report on that. CBS gets deleted. Brig Gen Ilan Harari (same name as Rafik Harari?) makes a statement, we lost the war, gets fired. I say he made an admission, war was lost. It gets edited no admission, he just voiced opinion. Same thing when right winger Major Gen. Ron-Tal says “we did not win the day” and in so many words Halutz AND Olmert should quit. Oh the Arents quote finally got back in when he called for a state inquiry on why they lost the war.
    The article has HA strength from 5,000 to 20,000. I tried to explain to the dumbxss editors about the concept of metaArmy (that i learned about here) but it’s beyond them. HA core fighters were helped by ordinary people, villiage militias, the right of the people to bear arms.
    Here is the relevant wiki part FYI (I am trying to encourage people to become editors)
    ” On 12 September, former defense minister Moshe Arens spoke of “the defeat of Israel” in calling for a state committee of inquiry. He said that Israel had lost “to a very small group of people, 5000 Hezbollah fighters, which should have been no match at all for the IDF,” and stated that the conflict could have “some very fateful consequences for the future.” Disclosing his intent to shortly resign, Ilan Harari, the IDF’s chief education officer, stated at a conference of senior IDF officers that Israel lost the war, becoming the first senior active duty officer to publicly state such an opinion.[154] IDF Major General Yiftah Ron Tal, on Oct 4, 2006 became the second and so far the highest ranking serving officer to express his opinion that the IDF failed “to win the day in the battle against Hizbollah,” as well as calling for Lt. Gen. Dan Halutz’ resignation.[155] Ron-Tal was subsequently fired but not because of statements regarding the actual Lebanon conflict, but because he said that it was a mistake to disengage from the Gaza strip and evacuate the settlers of Gush Katif.[156][Gaza stuff is pure Likud POV pushing]
    US President George W. Bush questioned Hezbollah’s declarations of victory “when at one time [they] were a state within a state, safe within southern Lebanon, and now [they’re] going to be replaced by a Lebanese army and an international force.”[157] It seems unlikely, however, that the army or the international force will attempt to disarm Hezbollah ”
    Something that is very very important and that is not getting play is this. Dan Halutz, the IDF chief of staff, went to Olmert on DAY SIX and told him we have achieved all our obectives. I take that to mean that they had hit all of their bombing aim points. Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni wanted then to start working on a way out which would have been a U.N. ceasefire resolution. This was vetoes by Olmert. IMHO opinion this was influenced by Bush who wanted to keep the war going for his own reason.
    Militarily, I’ve seen articles by Z. Schiff in Haaretz that the way to attack the HA fortifications is the way the Marines dealt with the Japanese in Iwo Jima by asphyxiating them with fire or thermobaric weapons. i don’t know wheter that would work b/c they have blast doors and air conditioning?
    As far as the French having tanks, Mon Diew, the nuclear powered aircraft carrier le General Charles de Gaulle is sitting off the coast and was flying patrols over the million person victory rally.
    One more comment in this lengthy post, while I was surfing today. I came upon an interesting comment about proxy wars. It is often said that HA is a proxy for Iran. This blog mentioned that one Col. Lang had remarked that at Yorktown the French troops outnumbered tha Americans 2:1 {?}, had all the artillery, had just defeated the Brits in a naval battle offshore, and had 25,000 troops in the flotilla. No wonder Lord Cornwallis surrendered. The blog went on to say the Brits considered the rebellious colonists proxies for the French totalirian state which was just using them as payback for the Seven Years War. How about that.
    PREVIOUS BUSINESS: I corresponded with Professor Juan Cole regarding whether the Shiites respected the Hashemite Kings of Jordan. He said it was laughable. If you recall in the Clean Break Paper written for Israel PM Nyetanyahu by Messrs Wurmser (and wife), Perle, Colbert, Feith, the NeoKons advocated that the Hashemite King of Jordan take over Iraq because as a descendant of the prophet he would be greatly respected by the Shia. ditto for Hizbollah. In their ignorance they did not realize he was Sunni and descended from the grandson Hassan and not the other grandson Husain revered by the Shia
    Just to think Feith was No. 3 at the Pentagon. Well he’s the idiot that disbanded the Iraki Army. Enough Said!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    Question for Professor Lang (taught at West Point)
    How in the dickens do persons like Wolfowitz and Feith become No. 2 and No. 3 having command authority at the Pentagon (The House of War) without ever having served a day in the military???
    Best Wishes

  19. VietnamVet says:

    The failure of the Israeli Lebanon invasion has had profound repercussions. Muslims now have a template to stop Western Army invasions or cultural infiltrations from Jews in Palestine to Thais in Malay Peninsula; if they organize, dig tunnels and tap petro-dollars.
    Israel is out of the Iranian Air Campaign. For the USA, other than addled ideologues, “Shock and Awe”, aerial warfare on the cheap, is an abject failure. Oil traders have decided that Iranian oil supplies will be stable for a while longer; gasoline prices crashed in the US.
    Bludgeoned by the Mark Foley Boy Sex Scandal and Woodward’s “State of Denial”, the inside beltway pundits have turned. Iran may be the last card the Neo-Con’s can deal, but this time the pundits will point out that it is a Joker. The next month watch to see if the Iranian October Surprise is dealt or not.

  20. James Pratt says:

    If the reports are true that the IDF and Pentagon planned the Lebanon campaign last winter as a rehearsal for a regime change through bombing
    effort against Iran then the failure to destroy Hizb Allah may have spared (for a while at least)American lives in 3 or 4 figures and Iranian lives in 5 or 6 figures. As it stands the assertion by President Bush that Iran is seeking nuclear weapons remains unproven, as reported by the IAEA. It seems to me a good idea to remember that the instrument used by Iran to organize Hizb Allah in the early 80’s was the al-Dawa party of Iraq.
    My theory of why Nasrullah gambled on the capture of the two IDF soldiers is that he came under pressure to act from the relatives of the hundreds of ‘administrative detainees’ that the Israelis have captured in Lebanon in earlier years, who sought an exchange as has happened before. They could have been inspired
    because of the previous capture of the one IDF observation post guard in Gaza.

  21. zanzibar says:

    OT. North Korea claims successful nuclear test.
    North Korea says it has carried out its first ever test of a nuclear weapon, the state news agency has reported.
    It said the underground test, done in defiance of international warnings, was a success and had not resulted in any leak of radiation.
    A South Korean official said an explosion had been detected in the north-east of North Korea, measuring 3.5 on the Richter scale.

  22. arbogast says:

    Is this the casus belli?
    If ever a government needed a casus belli, the Bush administration does.
    Mo’s comments about Hezbollah’s targeting of their missiles is accurate. Mo, is it not the case that the majority of the casualties caused by Hezbollah’s missiles were military? Perhaps that is the key point.

  23. Leila says:

    I still wonder, based on pure feminine intuition, if the Foleygate scandal didn’t arise from an inside-Washington desire to sabotage the Iran war planned for this month. CIA guys mad about recent Bushco backstabbing and determined to prevent another Iraq debacle? True-blue conservatives sick of Bushco adventurism? Top brass in the military worried about the strategy and the health of the armed forces? All of the above?
    Because the Foley material seems to have been leaked by Republicans. And it was leaked just in time to blow the Iranian project out of the water (although it’s only October 9, there’s still time).
    In Harpers Mag. for this month, Daniel Ellsberg calls for some honorable insider to blow the whistle on the impending Iran operation. When I read that, I immediately thought of Foleygate. Could it be the response?
    I’m just a housewife and novelist in California, so I have no way of investigating this. Don’t know if we’ll ever know. But my “subtle, clever Arab mind” sees a possibility.

  24. confusedponderer says:

    “Just to think Feith was No. 3 at the Pentagon. Well he’s the idiot that disbanded the Iraki Army. Enough Said!!!!!!!!!!!!!”
    Well, the point I like to make here is that Feith has been lurking in the national security establishment and the pro-Israel business for at least two decades. That does mean he had a lot of time to form his opinions, allegiances and ultimately ideas about policy.
    From his buddies he was almost certainly familiar with ideas like Yinon’s plan to split Iraq, and other fantastic schemes. I think the idea to dissolve the Iraqi army orginates from two *convictions*:
    First – in WW-II the US dissolved the Wehrmacht and the SS in Germany, and alas, it worked, so it will work in Iraq as well [except for the difference in troop levels, made irrelevant by the beliefs that (a) RMA changed everything and (b) the Iraqis would greet the US with flowers anyway].
    Not only dissolving the army, but banning Baathists from public office, they clearly wanted to purge the Baathists. De-baathification and de-nazification and the related ‘screening’ are too similar to be an accident, and iirc administration babbling explicitly referred to the (successful) occupation of Nazi Germany as a model for Iraq. To me this underlines the perils of making ill-informed historical analogies, like simply using the occupation of Nazi-Germany as a template for Iraq.
    Second, if it fails and Iraq breaks up – nothing is lost because that would still benefit America’s splendid little ally – and so benefitting the US as well. I take as a given that Feith is intimately familiar with the sort of ‘Grand(iose) Strategy’ cooked up in (pro-)Likudnik quarters. But still, if anything, Yinon’s idea was only the back-up plan.
    I think that’s the way of thinking that made Feith make this decision. Plus, I presume it that he had explicit instructions from the VP and the Pentagon. I fear the only thing nefarious in this decisionmaking process is the degree of arrogance, wishful thinking and utter ignorance involved.
    My interpretation is of course circumstantial, and I might well be wrong, but I find it plausible.

  25. still working it out says:

    If they do not admit they lost then there can be no examination of the causes and changing tactics for next time.
    I guess Israeli’s are now secure enough of their own continued existence that they can afford a little bit of self delusion like every other country. This kind of denial would have been unthinkable in Israel in the 1970’s.

  26. Will says:

    Re:” My theory of why Nasrullah gambled on the capture of the two IDF soldiers is that he came under pressure to act from the relatives of the hundreds of ‘administrative detainees’ that the Israelis have captured in Lebanon in earlier years, who sought an exchange as has happened before. ”
    Well, Surprise
    There were exactly THREE prisoners although some sources mention a fourth one. So the prisoner issue was hardly a pressing matter.
    See below, well below the line. INMHO opinion, they (HA)were trying to assist the Gazans who were under siege w/o water and electricity. The Gazans had kidnapped one IDF (SHALIT) to draw attention to their plight of living in a giant steel cage. HA was going to add fuel to that fire. It backfired and all the oxygen got sucked out of Gaza toward Lebanaon. Who has talked about Gaza lately?
    from Wiki (pardon the pro Israeli POV- point of view)
    On the last HA-Israeli prisoner exchange, Hundreds of Palestinians were also released
    ” Hezbollah named the attack “Operation Truthful Promise” after leader Hassan Nasrallah’s public pledges over the prior year and a half to capture Israeli soldiers and swap them for convicted murderer Samir Kuntar, convicted spy Nasim Nisr, alleged terrorist Yahya Skaf who Hezbollah claims was arrested in Israel (Israel denies this), and Ahmad Farran, who is being held for reasons unknown, among any other Lebanese prisoners incarcerated in Israel.[38] Nasrallah claimed that Israel had broken an agreement to release these prisoners in a previous deal, and that, diplomacy having failed, violence was the only remaining option.[38] Nasrallah declared: “No military operation will return the Israeli captured soldiers…The prisoners will not be returned except through one way: indirect negotiations and a trade of prisoners.”
    Best Wishes

  27. wtofd says:

    sonic, brilliant.

  28. Mo says:

    holy, I know, mores the pity. I will try to water down the facts when I want to get published in the US.
    zanzibar, one further thing Nasrallah also added was had this war happened in October and Hizbullah had been totaly unprepared they would have suffered much heavier losses. You are right on all the predications of the war and he result of it. In actuality, Hizbullahs popularity in the Arab world is such that it makes a mockery of the attempted Sunni-Shia divide Bush is trying to create.
    Will, the military presence of the UNIFIL forces, especially the Naval presence like you say, is becoming quite heavy. The question for the Lebanese is for whom is all this heavy artillery? They dont for one second entertain the idea that it is stop any future Israeli incursion. They cant either believe it is to use against Hizbullah as they are only too aware now of the strength of the party, and wouldn’t have use for Planes and an Armada anyway. So is it for Iran?
    As for the Hashemite kings, yes it is laughable but forget all the descendant stuff. The Hashemite kings are known to have colluded with Israel and before them the Zionist gangs from early on in the 20th century. Their position in the Arab world is somewhere between laughing stock and contempt.
    james pratt, I doubt any war against Hizbullah can be seen as a dress rehearsal for attacking Iran. The 2 entities are quite frankly so different, other than learning about a few missiles, I can’t see what they would gain. The war on Lebanon was part of a bigger picture, of removing any and all obstacles to US hegemony over the ME (and also to “force” the Lebanese govt. to allow the channeling of the Litani). You are right that Hizbullah were under pressure to get back all the Lebanese detainees, but they have been for a while, and have been promising to take Israeli soldiers since Sharon reneged on the earlier deal (in fact this was the fourth known attempt). I doubt there was any greater pressure now than there has been.
    arbogast, it is certainly true that the majority of documented casualties caused by Hezbollah were military, 3:1 in fact. We can only guess on what effect the missiles had on the various Israeli military installations to press censorship. Compared to the 10:1 ratio of civilians to fighters Israel killed, i think it makes a big difference yes.
    Leila, that hadn’t crossed my mind at all, I certainly hope you are right and that there is finally some sort of dissent in the intelligence community!
    Apologies for all the answers in one go, the effect of being in a different timezone to the rest of you guys im afraid.
    P.s. Robert Fisk has written a long but worthy article on terrorism in our times at

  29. Farmer Don says:

    Yes Hezbollah won the war. But as others have said, how many victories like this can Lebanon take? The cost of the country in terms of lives, misery, and national debit are very high. But at least it doesn’t seem like Israel has the stomach for another round of collective punishment for this country right now.
    Since Foleygate it looks like the U.S.A. MIGHT be back on the right track.
    Maybe the old pattern of: 1)A popular foreign adventure going bad. 2)SLOW public awarness, 3)Throw the bums out. 4Years of “peace with honor” problems of getting out. 5)Then a short fit of navel gazing, 6)A resolution to learn from the mstakes and never to do that again will happen.
    Superb Blog Colonel Lang!

  30. McGee says:

    Very good piece by Gideon Levy in today’s Haaretz touching on this topic and previous threads regarding SecState Rice’s effectiveness and her recent ME visits. Opening and closing paragraphs are particularly telling:
    “It happens once every few months. Like a periodic visit by an especially annoying relative from overseas, Condoleezza Rice was here again. The same declarations, the same texts devoid of content, the same sycophancy, the same official aircraft heading back to where it came from. The results were also the same: Israel promised in December, after a stormy night of discussions, to open the “safe passage” between the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. This time, in what was considered the “achievement” of the current visit, Israel also promised to open the Karni crossing. Karni will be open, one can assume, only slightly more than the “safe passage,” which never opened following the previous futile visit.
    Rice has been here six times in the course of a year and a half, and what has come of it? Has anyone asked her about this? Does she ask herself?”
    “In the Middle East, the U.S. has an opportunity to fundamentally change its image, from a warmonger to a peacemaker. And how does the U.S. respond to the challenge? It sends Rice to tell the excited Ehud Olmert how she falls asleep easily on her unnecessary and ridiculous flights to and from the Middle East.”
    Entire piece is here:
    Link to Haaretz OpEd

  31. zanzibar says:

    Mo, the Robert Fisk article you linked to is rather pessimistic. He expects a civil war in Lebanon and more international terrorism.
    And this is true. For the direct result of the disastrous Israeli campaign has been to turn the Hizbollah into heroes of the Arab – indeed the Muslim – world, to break apart the fragile political stability established by the Lebanese prime minister, Fouad Siniora, and to have Hizbollah’s leader, Sayed Hassan Nasrallah, declare a “divine victory” and demand a “national unity” government which, if it comes about, will be pro-Syrian. The language now being used in Lebanon by the country’s political leaders is approaching the incendiary, lethal grammar of pre-civil war Lebanon.
    Samir Geagea, the Christian ex-militia commander, brought out tens of thousands of supporters to jeer at Nasrallah. “They demand a strong state but how can a strong state be built with a statelet in its midst?” Geagea demanded to know after the Hizbollah suddenly announced that it has no intention of handing over its weapons. Indeed, Nasrallah is now boasting that he still has 20,000 missiles in southern Lebanon, a claim which led the Druze leader, Walid Jumblatt, to abuse Nasrallah as a creature of Syria – there is speculation over the depth of his relationship with Damascus but his arms certainly come from Iran – and to say to him: “Sayed Nasrallah, rest your mind, I will not reach an agreement with you. When you separate yourself from the Syrian leadership, I will possibly hold a dialogue with you.” Thus two more paper-thin links – between Lebanon’s Druze community and the Christians and the larger population of Shiite Muslims – have been broken. And that is how civil wars start.

    On the UNIFIL armada – the concern would of course be if there was an accident and suddenly UNIFIL is taking sides in an internal Lebanese conflict egged on by Israel. This would clearly be in Israel’s interest. An internal degradation of HA’s capabilities. My question is do the French, Germans and Italians want to get militarily embroiled in another conflict in the Levant?

  32. jonst says:

    I would not rule it out. SOMEBODY is playing this well.

  33. Mo says:

    Zanzibar, yes it is, but Robert Fisk has always been a pessimist, a result I guess of being too close for too long to the worlds suffering. I don’t necessarily agree with all his predictions but his breakdown of cause and effect is well worth the read.
    In regards to UNIFIL, if they were to take sides in an internal Lebanese conflict, it would certainly be on the anti-HA side. Considering the popular support and strength of HA, I do not for a second believe they have the stomach for what would be a very messy and very costly confrontation.

  34. blowback says:

    The English-language version of Al Jazeera seem to be little more than a PR outfit for the Israelis. They reported an interview with a former head of Mossad, Efraim Halevy, who claimed there were a number of reasons why Hezbollah lost. The best one is:
    v) UNSC resolution 1701 calls for the total disarming of the Hezbollah. Nasrallah and his forces are defiant in their refusal to abide by this decision and, as a result, are flouting the wishes and demands of the entire international community, including the major states in the Middle East and the Arab world.
    Since Israel, with US assistance, has ignored almost every UNSC resolution passed against it, does this mean that Israel has “lost” almost every war it has fought.

  35. W. Patrick Lang says:

    Nonsense. UN Resolutions are pieces of paper, unenforceable except by force. The UN is not a government. No one knows that better than the Israelis. pl

  36. Mo says:

    blowback, Israelis also appear on the Arabic language version of the channel. I guess its pay back for allowing them to report from inside Israel (which I actually didnt know they could do until the war). Besides, even Al Jazeera needs good quality comedy in its programming schedules….

  37. Will says:

    some of the jewish-american participation in Irak war is just part of the religion-blind-color-blind character of today’s military. To an Irak conspiracist it may seem PsyOp warfare to have a woman run Abu-Ghraib, and a masterstroke to have a Jewish-American woman, to wit: Jans Karprinski be nomminaly in charge. No, matter that the higher ups threw her under the bus and it was Lt. Jeff Miller that was ultimately responsibely for porting over the questionable technques from Gitmo.
    But when it comes to hi policy making positions at the Pentagon concerning Occupied Irak, which Israel considered an enemy country, I wonder.
    As far as Pentagon No. 2 Wolfowotiz, he was an ardent supporter of Israel, advocated the breakup of Irak during Gulf War 1, but in his favor never did write a position paper for Israel prime minister righ wing Benjamn Nyetanyahu, like No. 3. Douglas Feith.
    Some of what Feith did in Irak is comparable to what was partially carried out in occupied West Germany under Sec’y Treasury Henry Moregentheau’s plan. The full plan, initally approved by FDR and then scuttled, called for the de-industriallization of the country and making it agricultural. A lot of its population would have starved b/c agriculture cannot support as many people as industry.
    Nevertheless, many factories were dismantled, something that turned Gen Patton’s stomach. The West Germans were put on short rations and got less to eat for a while after the war than they did during the war.
    I would call what happened in Irak- too few troops to occupy the country, failure to protect the infrastructure, the disbanding of the Army-Police Force, the firing of Civil workers w/ any hint of Baath party involvement- the Irak-Feith-Morgenthau Plan.
    Wolfowitz and Feith are political appointees. Rummy and Cheney and Irving Scooter Libby are privy to their plans.
    There’s still the question in my mind about the separation of role between the Pentagon and the State Department. No. 2 & No. 3 never served a single day in the armed forces, yet they are at the Pentagot, the House of War. Moreover, they are involved in foreign policy roles that tradionally belong in the State Department.
    Best Wishes

  38. arbogast says:

    When one reads the works of Shakespeare, one is struck that the more important what is said, the fewer words are used to say it.
    Juan Cole sums up the administration of George Bush in a very few words, very relevant to our discussion.
    I repeat for the millionth time, the plan in Iraq was to invade, organize the victory celebration, put together an Iraqi Army “advised” by the US, and invade Iran…and pay for it with oil revenue. That was the plan. And I am sure that is why there have never been enough soldiers in Iraq. We were supposed to move to an “advisory” role within a few weeks of “Mission Accomplished”.
    I give Don and Dick and George a huge amount of credit for having turned a sow’s ear into a silk purse for such a long time.
    And, of course, there has never, ever been a plan for conscription. That is why we will lose, lose, lose.
    How could we conceivably deal with North Korea militarily at this time?

  39. confusedponderer says:

    my take is that the Pentagon taking over foreign policy planning had simple reasons:
    (a) Power followed the money (as in the intelligence). The military budged is much larger than State’s. Being the ultimate executive instrument of policy, the pentagon politicos wanted to have a stronger say as well. That would certainly be one of Rumsfeld’s motives.
    (b) The ideological purists had an axe to grind with the ‘defaitist realists’ at state and the entire reality based world since the 1970s. The neo-conservative hostility goes back to the days of Plan B, the Comittee of the Present Danger and their opposition to detente (aka ‘appeasing evil’). The Team B crew then already involved all the usual suspects, Wolfie, Perle, Rumsfeld etc. They built their political careers on insisting the Russians are three metres tall, and opposing State and ‘appeasement’ like arms control. They knew each other for a long time, and formed an ‘old boys’ network.
    Thanks to a weak national security advisor Rice and a weak Secretary of State Powell vs. a strong VP and then-strong SECDEF they were able to concentrate their influence at State’s expense. It is still so that today State’s policy is bound by the decisions and guidelines that have been made earlier by the pentagonistas and the VP and that have then been blessed by the president: Unconditional support for Israel, regime changing the Middle East, etc.
    (c) And then there is the folksy and dumbed down variant of (b) that gave the elitist neo-cons vocal support. It was the ever-entertaining Pat Robertson who said it would be a good idea to nuke Foggy Bottom. Robertson made the comments during a series of interviews on his “700 Club” television show with Joel Mowbray, author of the tome, “Dangerous Diplomacy: How the State Department Endangers America’s Security.”
    After 911 many people were in a mood for ‘heads on spikes’, and quickly please. It heated up until early 2003 to the extent that dialogue with pro war folks became next to impossible. ‘State bad, diplomacy delays ‘heads on spikes’. Me bash State.’
    At the time time I had the opportunity to talk with, or rather listen to and speak at, some wingnuts who just found Robertson’s ‘plan’ splendid. For them the folks at State were ‘traitors’, selling out US interests in shady diplomatic deals. They were, and probably still are, profoundly anti-intellectual, too.
    However fringe they were, there is an faction on the US right where stuff like that resonates. Sen. Norm Coleman practically builds his political career on bashing the UN. This hostility to diplomacy, and the UN in particular, is something peculiar American. It’s IMO entirely about domestic US policy.
    When I once remarked to one Mr. Wingnut, that I made an internship at the UN (at the UNFCCC; unlike Mr. Wingnut I believe in global warming, and fire), the reply was: ‘Now you’re showing your true colours!’ I didn’t explore what that was supposed to mean, but I didn’t interprete it as approval (that smell of brimstone and sulphur is my aftershave). I mocked him that (certainly) unwittingly he was enjoying the benefits of UN regulation (by the ICAO to be precise) when going on an international flight, and he replied proudly that he didn’t even have a passport. Sorry, the reply *was* a joke. Couldn’t resist. The ‘true colours’ thing was real. But I’m getting way off here.

  40. larry birnbaum says:

    “Jans Karprinski” (I assume Will means Janis Karpinski), a little digging on the internet will help you discover, is a Presbyterian, born Janis Leigh Beam, married name Karpinski.
    Not the most egregious error in the set of posts above, but a telling one.

  41. Will says:

    actually where I saw about janis Karpinski ethnicity was THE internet. i see the name a lot on Haaretz so I assumed it was true.
    In this case the perception is what counted. It was actually an Iraki insurgent site on Abu Ghraib.
    I stand corrected on Janis, Thank you. And you will note that I did stick up for her and said she was thrown under the bus by her superiors.
    Now are you saying I was wrong that the dual loyalties of Wolfowitz, Perle, and Feith have been questioned. Or that the Morgenthau plan (pardon my spellling) would have resulted in mass starvation in Germany?
    I know where this is headed. I just started a new section in the Juan Cole Wikipedia article where he is attacked unmercifully everyday
    “Professor Juan Cole has strongly condemned Anti-Semitism. He has circulated a petition against a boycott of Israeli academics. However, he views the New anti-Semitism movement as susceptible to abuse as a cover to condemn critics of Israeli occupation and settlement of the Gaza strip and the West Bank which is contrary to international law and U.N. resolutions. Cole writes:
    “When a movement sprang up to boycott Israeli academics in Europe, I wrote against it in the Chronicle of Higher Education.
    In the Middle East Studies establishment in the United States, I have stood with Israeli colleagues and against any attempt to marginalize them or boycott them.
    But of course, for the pro-Likud forces, all that means nothing. Being fanatics and often even cultists, they will accept nothing less than a toeing of the party line. And they have perverted the word “antisemitic” to simply mean “won’t go along with Gush Emunim’s plans.” I think there is some danger of the word “antisemitic” as a result becoming useless and being discarded altogether. Why not just speak of racism or bigotry? We don’t have a special word for anti-Black racism, and the African-Americans suffered their own Holocaust in the centuries of the slave trade. If someone accused me of being a racist because I objected to Israeli colonization of the West Bank, the full absurdity of the accusation would be obvious. “Antisemitism” has become so wrought up with Likud propaganda that it now can be employed in dishonest ways, as a cover for aggression and expropriation.”[14] ‘
    We are all sick and tired of war. What is wrong with following the Taba Peace Accord or the Geneva Initiative and then the Beirut-King faisal Arab league proposal signed by all 22 Arab nations for a warp peace with full trade??????????
    Best Wishes

  42. Will says:

    In fact, there is a pervasive identification of Americans and Israelis with some segments of the iraki population. When American soldiers enter certain quarters, the population cries out, “el Yahood.” from Professor Cole’s blog.
    Recently the Turks made a wildly popular anti-American movie. It was a reaction to Turkish commandos being taken prisoner and embarassed in Kirkuk. It featured a Jewish doctor at Abu Ghraib harvesting prisoners’ organs.
    The Irak war has not been a colossal sucess for fostering international
    Best Wishes

  43. Mo says:

    “What is wrong with following the Taba Peace Accord or the Geneva Initiative and then the Beirut-King faisal Arab league proposal signed by all 22 Arab nations for a warp peace with full trade?”
    Simple answer im afraid is water

  44. Will says:

    Of course i either meant “warp speed peace” or “warm peace.” one reason for the misspellilngs and bad grammar is these little edit boxes. just going to have to start using Word (added benefit spellcheck) and then pasting it in.
    Juan Cole said it best. Huge mistake to have Israeli tanks in Ramallah same time as American tanks in Baghdad.
    But it came to pass
    I guess it would be no surprise that Professor Juan Cole is one of my heroes. As JC would say Cheers.

  45. blowback says:

    Alastair Crooke and Mark Perry continue with their excellent reporting of the Lebanese conflict. HOW HEZBOLLAH DEFEATED ISRAEL
    PART 1: Winning the intelligence war

    From reading the Crooke/Perry article it appears that not only does Israel have problems with its military it also seems to have problems with its intelligence services.

  46. Mo says:

    Thanks blowback, an interesting read. It will also be interesting to read the second part.

  47. blowback says:

    Mo – you don’t have to wait too long. HOW HEZBOLLAH DEFEATED ISRAEL
    PART 2: Winning the ground war
    For PR reasons, it could have been even worse for the Israelis.
    “Prior to the implementation of the ceasefire, the Israeli political establishment decided that it would “clear drop” Israeli paratroopers in key areas along the Litani River. The decision was apparently made to convince the international community that the rules of engagement for a UN force should extend from the Litani south. Such a claim could not be made unless Israel could credibly claim to have cleared that part of Lebanon to the Litani.”
    “A significant number of Israeli forces were airlifted into key areas just south of the Litani to accomplish this goal. The decision might well have led to a disaster. Most of the Israeli forces airlifted to these sites were immediately surrounded by Hezbollah units and may well have been decisively mauled had a ceasefire not gone into effect.”
    At the end of the war, Israel needed the ceasefire more than Hezbollah and by prolonging the war, Bush and Blair handed Hezbollah an even greater victory.

  48. Mo says:

    thanks blowback, tactically, its much of what we already presumed here. I’m slightly skeptical on the details they provide for HA as im not sure of their sources and know HA’s refusal to ever talk details about war

  49. Will says:

    the asia times article is very good. But it almost got me in trouble.
    I read in it that U.S. JCS chairman Georgs S. Brown had resigned in 73 over Nixon resupplying Israel while troops in Vietnam were in short supply.
    I went to Wikipedia and made that edit in the operation Nickel Grass article. that was the name of the operation that saved Israel’s butt. To double check, i went to the JCS page and found out he served until 1980.
    In googling, i see where he made so anti-Israeli Lobby statements. That blind support of Israel might bring on another oil embargo and other kinds of disasters in the Mid-East. Kinds of prescient old chap. I need to go back and check if he’s still alive.
    He was hounded unmercifully for his comments and predictably called an anti-semite.
    Best Wishes

  50. EnoughAlready says:

    re Leila’s thght. that “foleygate” was to forestall assault on Iran – I saw it as Rove’s decision to toss Foley under the bus to divert attention from woodward’s new bk. For some reason, Elite Media is too simple-minded to discuss more than one thing at a time.

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