Sunday :: Aug 13, 2006

Q.U.A.G.M.I.R.E., Kosher-style

by pessimist

Lebanon is shaping up to be The Sinking Ship USS Neo-Con, a Desert Vietnam if you will [So my metaphors are mixed! Sue me!You'll get double your purchase price back!].

Sure, the US isn't the front line force in that war, but there are far too many credible reports indicating deep US involvement in the planning and support of Israel's ill-considered foray into the Bu$hco version of geopolitics.

Why 'ill-considered'? For one thing, as Sun Tzu's Art of War attempts to teach, one needs to know one's enemy, and his strengths, well in advance of initiating hostilities. Based on the results of their Lebanese protection recket, Israel had no clue who they were challenging:

David and Goliath
13 August 2006

Eric S Margolis is a veteran US journalist and contributing foreign editor of the Toronto Sun.

The Bush Administration’s encouragement of Israel’s foolish strategy marks its third military disaster.

Israel’s political leaders now cannot stop the war without winning a clear military victory. Anything less will be called a major defeat and bring them well-deserved political oblivion.

All Hezbollah has to do to win is survive the Israeli onslaught.
Wars are always filled with surprises. But hardly anyone, including veteran military observers, expected Lebanon’s Hezbollah fighters to withstand Israel’s armed forces for a month. This wholly unexpected resistance of some 3,000 Hezbollah fighters to the world’s fourth most powerful military machine electrified the Muslim world and stunned Israelis, who had foolishly dismissed Hezbollah as a bunch of terrorists.
Instead, Hezbollah fought Israel’s armoured juggernaut to a standstill.
Many Hezbollah officers are highly skilled veterans of the 1980’s war. Hezbollah fighters stand out among Arab military forces for proficiency in small unit combat tactics. Their squads are experts in moving and firing, setting up interlocking fields of fire, laying ambushes and anti-tank mines and pre-registered mortar fire plans.

History recoded other locations where such skills proved to be the determinant of victory:

Bint Jebil, which changed hands numerous times, is being hailed as ‘Hezbollagrad’ after the legendary World War II battle at Stalingrad. Hezbollah claims to have knocked out 13 of Israel’s superbly armoured Merkava tanks. Had Hezbollah any effective shoulder-fired anti-aircraft weapons, such as the US Stinger that neutralised Soviet aviation in Afghanistan, Israel’s enormous advantage from devastating close air support would also be partially neutralised.
In this sense, Hezbollah mujahideen are showing the same tenacious and deadly combat skills as North Vietnam’s renowned light infantry in the Indochina Wars.

By contrast, IDF ground forces seem to have forgotten almost all the bitter lessons previously learned in Lebanon. The 1980’s occupation cost Israel nearly 800 soldiers and billions of dollars.

Much of which was provided to Israel by American taxpayers.

Such an investment in Israel's military adventures was intended to produce the engine of forced change in Southwest Asia, making the region much more friendly for multinational investment - plans long in the making:

Battle for Mideast
By Ramzy Baroud
11 August 2006

Ramzy Baroud is the Editor-in-Chief of the Palestine Chronicle

Since the neoconservative takeover of America’s foreign policy, it has become apparent that the neocons do not operate with impulsiveness. The plan for a new Middle East was introduced as early as 1992 by then less influential neoconservative elements.
But when it all seemed set for the advent of a new Middle East, Iraqis exhibited stiff resistance that bogged down America’s military power and stretched its resources beyond expectations.

The tens of billions of initial costs for war
led to tens of millions more, with no end in sight.
Add to this eerie scenario the backfiring of their championed Middle East democracy project. The project was aimed at rearranging the region using the back door, with democracy being the new mantra.
The advent of Hamas, Israel’s most formidable foe in Palestine — as a result of one of the most transparent democratic elections ever held in the Middle East exposed the American democracy charade in time and most ironic ways: the same Palestinians who were told to live up to Israel’s high democratic standards were collectively punished, thereafter with the withholding of aid for doing just that.
Now that most of the doors have been shut [on] a new Middle East, there remained one unexplored possibility, the reordering of the original neoconservative plan, starting with Lebanon; but why Lebanon?
The original neocon doctrines — Paul Wolfowitz’s doctrine of 1992, Pearle’s foreign policy document of 1996, and those of the Project for a New American Century in later years — assured the collapse of the Lebanese front immediately after the elimination of the Syrian threat.

Syria, it is believed, holds all the cards to Lebanese politics. Syria, however, is hardly perceived as a military threat the same way as Iran is. Thus political channels — at the UN and US Congress — were successfully used to pressure Syria to concede its Lebanese fortress to a pro-American Lebanese government.

The defeat of Hezbollah would’ve indeed breathed new life
into the original neocons’ plan for the Middle East.
The subsequent events were anything but consistent with Israel’s designs: Hezbollah was not disarmed to pave the way for the triumphant return of Israel to extend its political outreach as a regional power to its neighbour to the north, and to further push an increasingly isolated Syria into a corner, who would eventually deport anti-Israeli occupation factions based in Damascus.

The fact of the matter is that the war on Lebanon was premeditated, with the hope that an easy war would bring an end to the resistance, coerce the country into an unwanted peace settlement, deliver a blow to Iran and Syria’s regional ambitions, but most importantly downgrade Iran’s regional import, perhaps as a stepping stone toward the long envisioned regime change.

The war on Lebanon indeed is generating a new Middle East, but hardly the one the US and Israel have long fought for. Arabs, and for the first time in their recent history unreservedly speak of a real military victory. Of course, neither the US nor Israel are prepared to accept such an outcome. Without a doubt, a decisive battle for a new Middle East is going on in Lebanon.

The question is: who will define it - and at what cost?

Bu$hCo has demonstrated that such a definition job is beyond its capabilities, but expect to be hit in your wallet to help cover the costs.

The original plan was that the United States, with Israeli participation, was going to make those decisions. But with Israel fought to a standstill, and Bu$hCo's track record of not having any plans for followthrough or for alternate contingencies, there is no other agency to turn to but the United Nations. At least in that venue, the world will have its say, and if the delegates exert honest effort in the service of the UN's stated purpose, there is a realistic chance of something positive emerging from the deliberations:

Bush hits panic button as Israel struggles in Lebanon
By Claude Salhani
12 August 2006

Claude Salhani is a political analyst with United Press International in Washington, DC.

President George W. Bush may have created another Frankenstein monster by allowing the war in Lebanon to go on for as long as it did. The President, much like his Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, resisted numerous calls to urge Israel for a ceasefire in the early days of the conflict. This was intentional and to allow Israel the time it needed to reach its objective — the destruction of Hezbollah.

Now, as the fighting appears as though it might spiral out of control and engulf the rest of the region, President Bush is reaching for the panic button. He is asking the United Nations to intervene and to call for a ceasefire.

This is the same UN body Bush and his administration
were so critical of in the past.
Can you say flip-flop?
The risk of the conflict spreading lies in a phrase Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert told senior officers during a visit to the Northern Command last week. Israel, said the PM, is not just fighting Hezbollah. Israel is fighting Iran and Syria; ... the prime minister said Israel was fighting Syria and Iran. What would happen if Israel hit back at Damascus or Teheran instead of Beirut?

Assume Israeli warplanes bombed the presidential palace in Damascus, killing President Bashar Al Assad. What then? What would be Syria’s reaction?

We have all been here before:

Syria is not really in a position to strike back at Israel in the conventional sense. However, if the Syrians are unable to put up a conventional fight against Israel, they can always draw Israel into a protracted and costly guerrilla war.
The war between Israel and Hezbollah, as the war the United States is fighting in Iraq, have proven that in an asymmetrical war a conventional army, no matter how powerful or technically advanced, finds itself at a disadvantage in the face of a well organised and dedicated guerrilla force that can fight with the strength of a conventional force but then dissipate into the environment and inflict heavy casualties on the enemy.

Just like the Vietcong and the NVA did in Vietnam.

The United States may be in a better position to sustain several thousand fatalities, as it has in Iraq. But in a smaller country as Israel, how many casualties can it suffer before it feels forced to begin thinking about its nuclear option?
Bush, now is the time to insist that all acts of hostilities cease. Tomorrow may be too late.

The key to a successful cessation of hostilities always lies with the strongest contestant, which is - in this author's opinion - Iran:

Why this war could indeed create a new Middle East
13 August 2006

Matein Khalid is a Dubai-based investment banker.

Israel is to America now what Serbia proved to the imperial Germany in August 1914: A brutal vassal state whose arrogance and delusions of power wrote the obituary for world peace.

This is the Armageddon scenario for both Jews and Arabs, the requiem for those of us peaceniks who staked our lives on a reconciliation among the warring children of Abraham. This is a seminal moment in Arab history, the summer when the Middle East’s Pax Americana balance of power met its doom and Zionism its nemesis.

To borrow Condi Rice’s vivid metaphor, the "birth pangs of the new Middle East" started last month. The summer of 2006 will change the geopolitical destiny of the Middle East forever, even if we can barely articulate the embryonic Arab future while satellite TV transmits the horrors of Lebanon into our psyche and outraged consciences. There are no winners in a war where the world weeps over the graves of Arab babies.

This is a monumental, even existential disaster for Israel.
I wonder if the cheerleaders of Israel in Washington understand the catastrophic, even genocidal implications of Ehud Olmert’s Lebanon assault on American foreign policy in the Middle East.

Hezbollah has again destroyed the myth of Israeli military invincibility forever, with its Katyusha rockets raining down on Hadera. Hezbollah, purely a Lebanese sectarian militia and local political machine only three weeks ago, is now the iconic symbol of Arab pride and Muslim honour, a status once enjoyed by the Palestinian fedayeen for three years between the end of the Six Day War and their destruction at Black September in Jordan.

Hezbollah’s alliance with Hamas, success against Israel on the battlefield and open contempt for pro-American Arab regimes is a political earthquake in the making. A public opinion backlash forced the governments of Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Egypt to reverse their initial condemnation of Hezbollah. The Saudi cabinet even spoke of the war option against Israel, something last uttered as Saudi financed Egypt prepared to attack Israel on the Suez Canal and King Faisal ordered the oil embargo in the autumn of 1973.

The real strategic winner of the latest Israeli invasion of Lebanon is unquestionably Iran. The geopolitical omens are perfect for Iran. Iran is now the dominant force in Lebanese politics, the new patron of Syria’s besieged Baathist regime and Hamas, the voice of visceral anti-Zionist and anti-American rage.

America’s withdrawal from Iraq is inevitable if the Democrats win the Senate in November and the WhiteHouse in 2008. This scenario exponentially raises the risk of a regional Arab-Israeli war instigated by Iran. Egypt, Jordan, Syria, Iran and Iraq could well attack Israel once Uncle Sam cuts and runs in Baghdad. So the Middle East reverts to its geopolitical balance of terror of before October 1973 when coalitions of entire Arab states, not mere guerillas or militia warlords, attacked Israel on the battlefield despite suicidal odds.

We now live in a world where Dimona and Bushire join the nuclear axis of evil, and must now face the bitter reality that the endgame of the Lebanon war could well be a radioactive mushroom cloud over the Holy Land.

I'm reminded of the interview with the Israeli general during the Gulf War (still looking for a link, by the way!), during which the general hinted at Israeli use of WMD in response to Saddam's SCUDs. The closing statement of the previous article appears to me to be hinting in a similar direction, which tells me that Iran may well already have useable weapons. Thus, thoughtful and cautious diplomacy is called for, not rash and reckless militarism.

The world has already experienced the effects of nuclear attack twice. Let's not create anymore Hiroshimas or Nagasakis.

Enough is enough.

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