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Well, the book tour is almost over which can only mean one thing--it's time for me to resume `active' blogging.  I should have been doing it all along, and if I knew anything about self-promotion my blogging activity would have peaked while I was on the road.  Sadly, this was not to be the case.  Between my day job (which has been hectic beyond belief), my "unpaid leave" job (the book tour), and my marriage (WAY more important to me than the first two), I've been left with little inclination to blog.  Well, that and the fact that the world has gone to shit in the last couple of weeks.  That's kind of been a downer.

Crossposted at My Left Wing

But it has also given me an opportunity to educate myself.  About a year and three months ago I wrote a diary called "The Expanding Mushroom Cloud of Democracy," where I described why I found it hard to get excited over the `purple finger' day that the right was all orgasmic over.  It's held up well (sadly).  Essentially everything I said has happened.  But there was one thing detail that I got flat-out wrong, and I was corrected immediately in the comments section.  

I said in my diary that the Iraqi Shi'a and the Iranian Shi'a would be natural allies, thus making Iran the clear winner of the second Iraq war.  I assumed they would cooperate because of their religious commonality, but a commenter pointed out that is one thing keeping the two apart--good ol' fashioned racism.  Turns out the Persians don't really care all that much for the Arabs in much the same way that White Southern Baptists and Black Southern Baptists rarely go to each others' churches.  Okay, so not in much the same way, but in the Mark Twain sense they "rhyme."

So the current crisis the in the Middle East heats up, and like everyone else I'm asked what my opinion is on the issue.  I don't particularly know why it should matter, but my initial reaction was this--asking me to take sides in the current conflict is like asking me to take sides in the California wildfires.  I'm anti-fire.  I could give a shit about who started it or why, I just want the damn fire out.  Once it's out, then let's find out who started it and act accordingly.  

No one seems to like that answer, so I figured I'd better spend a little more time looking into the issue.  I still retain much of my pre-conversion ignorance regarding Middle-Eastern politics.  Part of my was still buying into the cliché that "the only thing those people understand is strength."  This is a core doctrine of right-wing policy on the issue--the idea that we can ultimate "beat the love of Jesus" into "those people."  Instinctively I knew the conflict was more complicated than that.  I just hadn't spent any time researching it.  Nor did it seem likely I would find the time.

Almost on cue I ran across a piece called "The Middle East--What's Really Driving the War?"  It's not a political paper.  It didn't come from the blogs.  Rather it was emailed to me by a coworker who received it as part of a series of "Investor Insights."  It was written to give stock brokers some background info on the conflict, and to forecast what impact this geo-political issue will have on the markets. Largely it relies on information provided by Dr. George Friedman's intelligence service at  I don't know anything about the guy, but if he has an axe to grind I had a hard time finding it in his commentary.  I don't get the sense from his writings that he's pro-Israel, pro-Hezbollah, or pro-Palestine.  His writings sound very much like those of a dispassionate observer.  Long story short--this piece contained a lot of stuff I didn't know that I found more than a little interesting.  

First, a condensed history of the goings on in the region to set the stage...

"Hezbollah's decision to increase operations against Israel was not taken lightly. The leadership of Hezbollah has not so much moderated over the years as it has aged. The group's leaders have also, with age, become comfortable and in many cases wealthy. They are at least part of the Lebanese political process, and in some real sense part of the Lebanese establishment. These are men with a radical past and of radical mind-set, but they are older, comfortable and less adventurous than 20 years ago. Therefore, the question is: Why are they increasing tensions with Israel and inviting an invasion that threatens their very lives?
There is a generation gap in Hezbollah. Hezbollah began as a Shiite radical group inspired by the Iranian Islamic Revolution. In that context, Hezbollah represented a militant, nonsecular alternative to the Nasserite Fatah, Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, and other groups that took their bearing from Pan-Arabism rather than Islam. Hezbollah split the Shiite community in Lebanon -- which was against Sunnis and Christians -- but most of all, engaged the Israelis. It made a powerful claim that the Palestinian movement had no future while it remained fundamentally secular and while its religious alternatives derived from the conservative Arab monarchies. "

So, basically, Hezbollah had become sort of fat, dumb, and happy...well, those who hadn't blown themselves up at any rate.  The status quo was treating them good, so why mess with that?  Well, to understand what upset the balance you have to follow the money a little bit...

"Hezbollah had a split personality, however; it was supported by two very different states. Iran was radically Islamist. Syria, much closer and a major power in Lebanon, was secular and socialist. They shared an anti-Zionist ideology, but beyond that, not much. Moreover, the Syrians viewed the Palestinian claim for a state with a jaundiced eye. Palestine was, from their point of view, part of the Ottoman Empire's Syrian province, divided by the British and French. Syria wanted to destroy Israel, but not necessarily to create a Palestinian state.

From Syria's point of view, the real issue was the future of Lebanon, which it wanted to reabsorb into Syria, or at the very least economically exploit. The Syrians intervened in Lebanon against the Palestine Liberation Organization and on the side of some Christian elements. Their goal was much less ideological than political and economic. They saw Hezbollah as a tool in their fight with Yasser Arafat and for domination of Syria.

Hezbollah strategically was aligned with Iran. Tactically, it had to align itself with Syria, since the Syrians dominated Lebanon. That meant that when Syria wanted tension with Israel, Hezbollah provided it, and when Syria wanted things to quiet down, Hezbollah cooled it. Meanwhile the leadership of Hezbollah, aligned with the Syrians, was in a position to prosper, [in] particular after the Israeli withdrawal from Lebanon.

That withdrawal involved a basic, quiet agreement between Syria and Israel. Israel accepted Syrian domination of Lebanon. In return, Syria was expected to maintain a security regime that controlled Hezbollah. Attacks against Israel had to be kept within certain acceptable limits. Syria, having far less interest in Israel than in Lebanon, saw this as an opportunity to achieve its ends. Israel saw Syrian domination under these terms as a stabilizing force.

Bottom line: The status quo, while generally sucky, was the preferred alternative.  Syria was in Lebanon essentially using Hezbollah in a limited way to achieve political goals mostly involving Lebanon.  In return they kept Hezbollah in check, which placated Israel.  This wasn't exactly what I would call a shaky truce--more of a "best of a series of bad alternatives" kind of thing.  So what disturbed the balance?  Two things:

Two things converged to destabilize this sit uation. The emergence of Hamas as a major force among the Palestinians meant the Palestinian polity was being redefined. Even before the elections catapulted Hamas into a leadership role, it was clear that the Fatah-dominated government of Arafat was collapsing. Everything was up for grabs. That meant that either Hezbollah made a move or would be permanently a Lebanese organization. It had to show it was willing to take risks and be effective. In fact, it had to show that it was the most effective of all the groups. They moved... The second part of this occurred in Lebanon itself. After the death of former Prime Minister Rafik al-Hariri, outside pressure, primarily from the United States, forced a Syrian withdrawal from Lebanon. Now, do not overestimate the extent of the withdrawal. Syrian influence in Lebanon is still enormous. But it did relieve Syria of the burden of controlling Hezbollah. Indeed, Israel was not overly enthusiastic about Syria's withdrawal from Lebanon for just that reason.

Syria could now claim to have no influence or obligation concerning Hezbollah. Hezbollah's leadership lost the cover of being able to tell the young Turks that they would be more aggressive, but that the Syrians would not let them. As the Syrian withdrawal loosened up Lebanese politics, Hezbollah was neither restrained nor could it pretend to be restrained. Whatever the mixed feelings might have been, the mission was the mission, Syrian withdrawal opened the door and Hezbollah could not resist walking through it, and many members urgently wanted to walk through it." it's all Bush's fault!  Sorry...I guess I've been a liberal long enough now that I have a `Blame Bush First' complex.  Still, it turns out he didn't to Israel any favors with his expanding mushroom cloud of democracy in Lebanon.  On it's surface ending the Syrian occupation of Lebanon seemed like a good thing, and ultimately it could still work out. But it clearly has had a short-term destabilizing effect.  The fat, dumb, and happy Hezbollah leadership used to be able to say "Dude, I'd love for you to go suicide bomb that thing you're talking about, but Syria's kind of in charge here and they say no.  Sorry.  Nothing we can do!"  With Syria out of the equation, the leadership ran out of excuses.  They couldn't bluff the rank and file anymore.  They had to act.  And who benefits the most from this conflict in the region?  Iran, of course!

"At the same time the Iranians were deeply involved in negotiations in Iraq and over Tehran's nuclear program. They wanted as many levers as they could find to use in negotiations against the United States. They already had the ability to destabilize Iraq. They had a nuclear program the United States wanted to get rid of. Reactivating a global network that directly threatened American interests was another chip on the bargaining table. Not attacking U.S. interests but attacking Israel demonstrated Hezbollah's vibrancy without directly threatening the United States. Moreover, activities around the world, not carefully shielded in some cases, gave Iran further leverage.

In addition, it allowed Iran to reclaim its place as the leader of Islamic radical resurgence. Al Qaeda, a Sunni group, had supplanted Iran in the Islamic world. Indeed, Iran's collaboration with the West allowed Tehran to be pictured among the 'hypocrites' Osama bin Laden condemned. Iran wants to b! ecome the dominant power in the Persian Gulf, and one part of that is to take away the mantle of Islamic radicalism from al Qaeda. Since al Qaeda is a damaged organization at best, and since Hezbollah pioneered Islamist terrorism on a global basis, reactivating Hezbollah made a great deal of sense to the Iranians."

So Iran is in a pissing contest with Al Qaeda, what with Al Qaeda being some pissant, nationless Sunni entity and Iran being a predominantly Shi'a world power.  They want to show their dominance of regional politics, and this helps them succeed in that goal.  So who else comes out a winner?  As is often the case with Bush's foreign policy the answer is "everyone but the U.S."

Syria benefited by showing how badly it was needed in Lebanon. Iran picked up additional leverage against the United States. Hezbollah claimed a major place at the negotiations shaping the future of Palestinian politics. It all made a great deal of sense.

Not to beat a horse that, if not dead is certainly in eminent danger of expiring, but this is just another in a long line of reasons why Condi really, really sucks at her job.  The substance of Bush's much ballyhooed `shit' comment shows his ignorance of developments in the region.  He still thinks Syria has an interest in reigning in Hezbollah in Lebanon, but they come out just fine if they sit on the sidelines and watch this whole situation turn to shit.  If random private-sector intelligence guy is all over this, why is this administration so taken by surprise?  I know, I know.  It's shoe season.  She's busy.  Moving on...

So what's the endgame here?  How does this play out?

Of course, it was also obvious that Israel would respond. From Syria's point of view, that was fine. Israel would bog down again. It would turn to Syria to relieve it of its burdens. Israel would not want an Islamic regime in Damascus. Syria gets regime preservation and the opportunity to reclaim Lebanon. Iran gets a war hundreds of miles away from it, letting others fight its battles. It can claim it is the real enemy of Israel in the Islamic world. The United States might bargain away interests in Iraq in order to control Hezbollah. An Israeli invasion [of Lebanon] opens up possibilities [for the Iranians] without creating much risk.

It is Hezbollah that takes it on the chin. But Hezbollah, by its nature and its relationships, really did not have much choice. It had to act or become irrelevant. So now the question is: What does Hezbollah do when the Israelis come? They can resist. They have anti-tank weapons and other systems from Iran. They can inflict casualties. They can impose a counterinsurgency. Syria may think Israel will have to stay, but Israel plans to crush Hezbollah's infrastructure and leave, forcing Hezbollah to take years to recover. Everyone else in Lebanon is furious at Hezbollah for disrupting the recovery. What does Hezbollah do?"

In the 1980s, what Hezbollah did was take Western hostages. The United States is enormously sensitive to hostage situations. It led Ronald Reagan to Iran-Contra. Politically, the United States has trouble handling hostages. This is the one thing Hezbollah learned in the 1980s that the leaders remember. A portfolio of hostages is life insurance. Hezbollah could go back to its old habits. It makes sense to do so.  

That's why it's vital for all non-combatant nations to get their citizens out of Lebanon as soon as possible.  Given Hezbollah's history of hostage taking, the evacuation should have been mandatory and issued immediately.  But I guess we already know about Bush's history of issuing mandatory evacuation orders.  The author of this piece makes the comment that he's surprised at the U.S.'s slow reaction to get their citizens to safety.  He supposes that we've received some kind of inside information form Israel saying they won't invade.  He's more charitable (or more gullible) than I would be.  This was written before Israeli troops crossed the border, and to me illustrates how Bush wades hip deep into the shit before realizing maybe having a plan would have been a good idea.  Just like Hurricane Katrina the right's reaction has been predictable--blame the victim.

From Think Progress...

Rush Limbaugh, 7/19:
Even in the eyes of our ingrate, spoiled-rotten little children, brat-type ingrate citizens in Beirut, it's our fault. (Crying.) "It's a war zone. It's a war! How do I get out? (crying) We're having to shield ourselves from the sun in cardboard." (sobbing) That's embarrassing.
Fox anchor Neil Cavuto, 7/20:
The media is playing up a lot of whining, complaining Americans in this country who said there's been no warning, no communication. columnist Mike Gallagher, 7/21:
Amazingly, we're not even going to charge these ungrateful evacuees for the free trip home. ... Their sense of outrage and entitlement is slowly but surely becoming the American way. And it's positively disgusting.
Fox anchor Steve Doocy, 7/19:
Shockingly, after they've been plucked out of Beirut, a lot of them are whining and complaining that, you know what, I had to sleep on the concrete and they didn't have any food for me to eat.

"Whiney fucking babies!  Why don't they just die!"  I'm gonna miss these guys when America wakes up.  I guess from their perspective it would be better for our citizens to end up as hostages.

As a novice chess player you're taught to play out games even when you know you've lost.  You make forced move after forced move until ultimately you wind up checkmated.  As near as I can tell, that's where we are with this crisis.  There are moves left to be made, but the point where we could change the outcome has already passed.  Maybe I'll be surprised by Bush & Co.  Maybe they've got some devistatingly brilliant move left to play that I just can't see.  Maybe everything will work out in the end.  Maybe while I'm waiting for that to happen I should check my ass for flying monkeys.

Originally posted to advisorjim on Fri Jul 21, 2006 at 01:42 PM PDT.

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  •  Tip Jar (246+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Serephin, Alumbrados, Ga6thDem, Joe Bob, Donna Z, Best in Show, Go Vegetarian, Yoss, pb, LarryInNYC, mwjames, Upper West, Inky, tankej, tundraman, hester, Mikey, Paul in Berkeley, ogre, assyrian64, Trendar, calichick, AlanF, Citizen Earth, vancookie, RunawayRose, Maryscott OConnor, superfly, Emerson, tomathawl, vanguardia, Sherri in TX, LynChi, Xan, nussbaumski, cotterperson, Jay C, baracon, GayHillbilly, xynz, autoegocrat, x, Bexley Lane, varro, WI Deadhead, ZAPatty, shpilk, 2lucky, Matilda, Norwegian Chef, musicsleuth, bumblebums, mataliandy, dietznbach, sardonyx, RubDMC, rasbobbo, monkeybiz, EvieCZ, indybend, justme, alysheba, wayward, howd, SamSinister, groggy, sfgb, susakinovember, Billy Shears, b2witte, ask, PsiFighter37, highacidity, YoloMike, lunacat, Proud SW FL Lib, boilerman10, mrblifil, Brother Maynard, Trixie, roses, taonow, gabie, peraspera, peeder, LondonYank, Mber, fumie, high uintas, sele, wader, DemocracyLover in NYC, ianfrack, WeatherDem, stacystace, ktakki, kredwyn, BarbinMD, Moody Loner, mwk, Dallasdoc, DeadB0y, Chicago Lulu, God loves goats, casperr, elmo, goobop, grayslady, HeyMikey, chantedor, 42, bitterguy, lizah, MmeVoltaire, Catte Nappe, snakelass, Mrcia, rlharry, parrothead, Eddie Haskell, DH from MD, Democratic Hawk, inclusiveheart, bwintx, ChiGirl88, Bluefish, airshipjones, kfred, NeoconSemanticist, OrangeClouds115, kd texan, vacantlook, demandcaring, Krum, Irish Patti, boran2, bibble, mdgluon, TexH, rapala, ukexpat, 3goldens, Jim Hill, enough, Alegre, LarisaW, melindafla, Jersey Girl, JohnB47, The Mack, panicbean, clammyc, station wagon, david78209, klk, kldave, boofdah, dg10348, Pam from Calif, GreyHawk, annefrank, Exclamation Point Brian, wgard, illyia, bmaples, babatunde, sunbro, gkn, bayside, Eiron, wiscmass, sbdenmon, LithiumCola, dsteffen, wiseFool, Land of Enchantment, RainyDay, hatdog, Asinus Asinum Fricat, begone, taracar, howth of murph, surferal, charliek2k, elliott, pico, keefer55, dannyinla, trashablanca, Sanuk, snazzzybird, Icy, blizek, Patriot Daily News Clearinghouse, PatsBard, vigilant meerkat, leo joad, BeadLady, Capn Guts, Starseer, Yellow Canary, darthstar, victoria2dc, compbear, mango, carolita, Gasonfires, sailmaker, greenearth, EuroPerspective, Alexandra Lynch, jguzman17, Sam Wise Gingy, erratic, nonnie9999, DSPS owl, Everest42, FireCrow, armadillo, myrealname, oxley, middleagedhousewife, Josh or Con or Both, fezzik, blueness, Democritus, Brunette, Dem partisan, Lesser Dane, Land of Lincoln Dem, AllanTBG, Opposite Reaction, Bhishma, DBunn, GoldnI, jwestfield, out of left field, casusbelli, dotsright, Cronesense, whl, Kathie McCrimmon, gloriana, jayb, rgjdmls, nixmale

    Sorry for the extended absence.  I hope you find this information as interesting as I did!

    •  Excellent, thanks, already read it :) (18+ / 0-)

      I've been a subscriber to StratFor for some time and they are one of my most trusted sources for analysis of world events.  The basic thing is that they are a private firm who has a vested interest in providing unbiased information to their subscribers.  People pay them good money to get accurate information so they don't start a business in the middle of a soon to be war zone.

      If you visit their site, their are two things they offer up for free.  The first is a mailing list which is where the above information originally came from.  The other is a podcast which I've tends to compliment their written bulletins nicely.  If you have any interest in international affairs, I highly recommend them.

      Also, Friedman wrote a book that was released a little while ago called "America's Secret War".  It's an explanation of the real strategy behind the Iraq war.  They basically lay out what the plan is, what the US hopes to accomplish and why they are going this route.  Frankly it's the only explanation I've heard that makes a damn bit of sense given that we know they BS'd the WMD angle.

      --- If trickle down economics worked, Marie Antoinette wouldn't have lost her head

      by sterno on Fri Jul 21, 2006 at 02:59:31 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I didn't see a link (5+ / 0-)

        but I found this with google:

        •  Yeah (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          cotterperson, highacidity, greenearth

          Stratfor doesn't publicly post their analysis on their site.  They offer it through syndication like at investor insight or through their free e-mail list.  It's a little frustrating at times because I want to share what they are saying with people but I hate to wholesale cut and paste it.

          --- If trickle down economics worked, Marie Antoinette wouldn't have lost her head

          by sterno on Fri Jul 21, 2006 at 03:27:23 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  StratFor (4+ / 0-)

        Back when nearly everything they published was free I read them regularly (the '90s!). Last I saw their subscription costs were insanely expensive. They've got a lot of ex-intel people and some damn good sources, definitely very highly recommended!

        "The power to dominate rests on the differential possession of knowledge" -Foucault

        by Jett on Fri Jul 21, 2006 at 03:46:03 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Yeah (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          x, greenearth

          The mailing list is free and contains the really critical info.

          --- If trickle down economics worked, Marie Antoinette wouldn't have lost her head

          by sterno on Fri Jul 21, 2006 at 07:46:53 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  Stratfor's Nasrallah hindsight not 20/20 (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          Of course, it was also obvious that Israel would respond.

          Well, if so why didn't Stratfor predict that before the conflict started? Hezbollah had long promised to capture Israeli soldiers in order to exchange them for 3 of its fighters remaining in Israel's prisons. This easy-to-do hindsight just doesn't seem accurate.

          Here's coverage of Nasrallah immediately after the capture:

          Nasrallah was smiling and confident at a press conference in his stronghold in south Beirut as he dubbed the raid as "Operation Truthful Promise" and sent a message to the Lebanese held by Israel: "You are now on the road to freedom."

          "The (Israeli) prisoners will not return home except through one way _ indirect negotiations and a trade," he said. "Nobody in the whole world can return them home except through a (prisoners) exchange."

          I don't buy that he expected what has happened, it sure looks like he was thinking the incident would be all about -- in the end and mainly -- capturing and exchanging prisoners. I'm sure he probably thought Israel would launch some sort of severe response, perhaps the bombing of his Beirut offices, an limited incursion into South Lebanon. But not the unleashing of hell on all of Lebanon.

          Just thought I'd point out that Stratfor is not omniscient, and unintended consequences are not just the specialty of the Bush boobs. And, we should be careful not to underestimate the madness of the neocons in Israel and the United States.

          Thom Hartmann or Stephanie Miller for President, alternatives to the wonks and whimps

          by fairleft on Sat Jul 22, 2006 at 01:54:46 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  Here, have one of mine... (0+ / 0-)

      Once in a while you get shown the light in the strangest of places if you look at it right.

      by darthstar on Fri Jul 21, 2006 at 03:38:09 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Welcome home, Jim (0+ / 0-)

      Glad to have you back home in the River City. We need you here, badly.

      If you want to start blogging on local issues, we'd love to have you over at The 'Cue. You should come to the next Drinking Liberally, too. Thursdays at Dish.

      (-5.88, -6.46) Democracy is what happens between elections.

      by autoegocrat on Fri Jul 21, 2006 at 05:26:03 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  welcome back, jim... (0+ / 0-)

      actually, I kinda think they would prefer them as hostages.

      "Computer. End holographic program...Computer? Computer?"

      by kredwyn on Fri Jul 21, 2006 at 08:01:48 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  I highly recommend this Haaretz article: (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      cotterperson, x

      What will happen next? (and don't forget to click the More... link at the bottom...the second page is even more interesting.)

      It presents a more insider analysis than the scenario in this diary, which sounds sensible but is a bit constrained in its perspective.

  •  Excellent Diary! (13+ / 0-)

    Recommended - and this comment is mostly to draw people in.

    Throw the bums out!

    by Mikey on Fri Jul 21, 2006 at 01:52:39 PM PDT

  •  It's not 'war'--it's a 'delayed cease fire' (37+ / 0-)

    I watched Condi Rice give a 'press conference' in which she layed out this nonsense, Orwellian phrase again.  

    The question is not really if the 'Israeli operation' in Lebanon is good--war seems to be a permanent state for this administration.  The question is when it is OK to stop.   Should we stop war over here, yet?  How about over here?  

    Should we stop killing civilians? No, not yet because we haven't gotten to the 'root cause.'  

    Rather than 'mushroom cloud' democracy, I see this more like 'stupid-little-boy-wearing-a-football-helmet-who-rams-his-head-into-the-wall-backs-up-then-does-it-a gain-and-again-until-he-blacks-out' foreign policy.  

    Ouch!  Ouch!  Ouch!  Ouch! Ouch! Ouch...

    The wall would be nations that do not want us to invade them and be occupied (e.g., all nations).

    So, under the guise of an 'Israeli operation' (which we know is a joint operation), our little boy Republican administration rams its head against the wall again and again.   Ouch!  Ouch!  Ouch!  Ouch! Ouch! Ouch...

    The problem is that we are all attached to that head, unfortunately.

    (Ouch! Ouch! Ouch!  Ouch...thud.)

  •  Solid Information And Very Good Analysis... (14+ / 0-)

    ... but we don't know all of the rules for the actual endgame of this particular chess match and (as so often is the case in the Middle East) the situation has many deeper layers that we may not be seeing just yet. Things may seem quite gloomy now, but that could change. Excellent diary and recommended!

  •  wow (27+ / 0-)

    Nice to see an assessment of the situation that doesn't resort to someone being called an anti-semite or a terrorist sympathizer or whatever.  The one good thing (if there is a good thing about this) is that Americans are really starting to question the leadership of this administration.  They look like a bunch of idiots who have no clue and it is glaringly obvious they are in way over their heads.  Rice and Snow and the rest of the yahoos are trying desperately to negate the initial impression by trotting out their talking point - we must create the conditions on the ground that is conducive to a lasting peace (which has been repeated ad nauseum) - but Americans aren't quite as gullible as they were.

  •  Excellent diary, (15+ / 0-)

    and what a find.  I'm going to do some background research on the guy and his website, but it's refreshing to hear someone picking apart the different actors and discussing their individual stakes rather than treating the conflict as a blob of us/them.  

    Saint, n. A dead sinner revised and edited. - Ambrose Bierce

    by pico on Fri Jul 21, 2006 at 02:07:29 PM PDT

  •  I am in awe (36+ / 0-)

    I just learned more about this conflict in reading this diary than I have learned from the corporate owned media in the past two weeks.

    George W. Bush -- a president in the grand tradition of Warren Harding and Franklin Pierce!

    by dietznbach on Fri Jul 21, 2006 at 02:08:42 PM PDT

  •  What an incredible diary......... (15+ / 0-)

    packed with thoughtful analysis not given to playing favorites.  Learned a lot,  we're in even deeper than I thought and I wonder how the 250,000 Turks on Iraq's northern border are going to affect all of this.  Our military is stuck between a rock and a hard place and I fear for the way this administration plays fast and loose with their lives.
    Thank you and glad you're back.

  •  My question to it all ! Perhaps you can place (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    snakelass, chillindame, greenearth

    some insight from your knowledge base.

    But; what percentage  of the Israeli military weaponry has America not supplied directly or directly from  our tax payers money?

    Should it read the Israeli-United States armies and air force?

    •  Almost every Israeli aircraft... (16+ / 0-)

      is a US military jet with Israeli stickers. We've been giving them (for free) three billion dollars+ annually in military weaponry for the past ten years.

      So yeah. Those are our weapons of mass destruction dropping bombs on civilians.

      "The last thing people want is an opposition party vigorously opposing things." - jasonwhat

      by the new yorker on Fri Jul 21, 2006 at 03:03:23 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Well... (4+ / 0-)

      We give them ~$2 billion/year and I'd imagine there's some requirements in there to spend that money on made in the USA gear.  

      --- If trickle down economics worked, Marie Antoinette wouldn't have lost her head

      by sterno on Fri Jul 21, 2006 at 03:03:59 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  We give them ~$2 billion/year (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Inky, snakelass

        According to an article I read in Ha'aretz a year or so back, the $2B/yr is correct - for military matters. Of that $2B nearly all of it is earmarked to be spent with US defense firms, most of them in Texas (what a surprise ...).

        The additional $1B mainly goes into the settlement-building industry, which is a real Chicago/New Orleans style cesspool of kickbacks etc. There's Chinatown in there too in that the largest settlemnts are on top of the sole surviving aquifer in I/P, which is being pumped out 24/7 with much of the water going to the huge Sharon family farm, at least when Sharon was still PM. The other nearest aquifer is the Litani River watershed in southern Lebanon, some of which is land claimed by the Biblical "Greater Israel" faction.  

        I vaguely thought that the US Congress had doubled aid to Israel to $6B but not sure about that. Also, we shouldn't forget the $2-3B/yr (?) paid in protection money to Egypt. All in all, not really a big deal percentage-wise, even though the US is near the bottom of developed nations in % of GDP going to foreign aid. It's more the counterproductive uses to which the money is put and the sense of an irresistable downward spiral that should bother us, I think.

        Then let us learn our range: we are something but we are not everything - Pascal

        by jlb1972 on Sat Jul 22, 2006 at 03:01:06 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Just saw Carolita's comment (0+ / 0-)

        she's got better details than I do.

        Then let us learn our range: we are something but we are not everything - Pascal

        by jlb1972 on Sat Jul 22, 2006 at 03:02:32 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Amy Goodman addressed that today (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Inky, snakelass, parrothead, jlb1972

      on Democracy Now. She interviewed Frida Berrigan with the Arms Trade Research Center at the World Policy Institute. A transcript is here.

      Short answer: all of the big equipment (planes, tanks, guns) PLUS 20 percent of Israel's total annual defense budget in direct CASH aid (straight from the US taxpayer). Israel, in turn, takes the cash and goes to US arms dealers for weaponry. Total is $6.3 billion since Bush took office. We also built munitions plants in Israel.

      Berringer also described this interesting tidbit:

      Lockheed Martin and the Israeli military recently went into business together, co-producing a version of the F-16 fighter plane called the Sufa, which means “storm” in Hebrew. It’s built partially outside of Tel Aviv, and then the final work is done in Ft. Worth, Texas. It’s a $4 billion deal with the Israeli military. For the first time, an Israeli military company is contributing in its manufacturing the avionics of the plane. So there’s this -- it’s almost this supranational relationship between Lockheed Martin and the Israeli defense industry -- they sort of transcend government and work directly with the manufacturers of weapons in other countries.

      That doesn't include things like the $120 million in jet fuel we "sold" to Israel last Friday (July 14) -- talk about your "just in time" delivery. That ought to make you stop and think.

      They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety. -- Franklin

      by carolita on Fri Jul 21, 2006 at 10:22:10 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  How many Lebanese Children Killed Today? (7+ / 0-)

    Does anyone have an update on the bodycount?  The last information I had was that 1/3 of the dead were children (clearly Hezbollah fighters in training).  At the current pace, this conflict could last for months before all the children/terrorists have been destroyed.

    •  Numbers likely unreliable... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      RAZE, greenearth

      ...don't you think?  What with all the flying bombs, I'm guessing that not all the rubble's been dug out to find out.

    •  It really is a tragedy that these children have. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Cecrops Tangaroa, greenearth

      ...been killed.

      But I must have missed the connection between your observation and the diarist's analysis.

      Would you please enlighten me: how does your observation shed more light upon the diarist's explanation of the situation?

      -5.75 -4.72 3.14159 2.71828

      by xynz on Fri Jul 21, 2006 at 05:31:11 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  it's like this (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        if LA was hit by 1500 rockets from another country,
        you wouldn't be as concerned about the children in that
        country as you would about your own children, would you?

        If you gave tremendous concessions, and land in exchange
        for a vow of peace, and you kept your side of the bargain
        and your neighbor didn't,  And your country was put in danger
        as a result, maybe you would see things a little differently.

  •  Excellent work! (9+ / 0-)

    This belongs on op-ed pages everywhere. Just where are you advising, Jim? Get thee to the State Department.

    the blue sea seethes with reason

    by howth of murph on Fri Jul 21, 2006 at 02:19:14 PM PDT

  •  holy shit (37+ / 0-)

    There is something seriously wrong with Doocy et al. There was a poll at a few days back asking the question "Should U.S. citizens evacuated from Lebanon have to reimburse the cost of the trip to the U.S. government?" I swear I just sat there staring in disbelief for a full minute. How the hell can they even be asking that questions? These are American citizens in the middle of a war zone! What the fuck do you think, the government is just going to leave them there? It's unspeakably asinine to even suggest that they should pay to be evacuated; many of them probably already paid for plane tickets back, which, you know, can't be used now since the airport was bombed.

    Seriously, I think Katrina went exactly as planned. The idea that the government isn't responsible for doing jack shit is now thoroughly embedded in mainstream discourse.

    Oh God, I haven't read your book; I'm sure it was divine
    Especially the part where you turned water into wine

    by nasarius on Fri Jul 21, 2006 at 02:25:35 PM PDT

  •  Evacuation (9+ / 0-)

    They are slowly evacuating those who have requested it. There are thousands more Americans there. Since the government has not urged evacuation (let alone requiring it); and is obviously not doing a terribly effective job in the evacuation business ayway, that means a huge number of Americans are still there in the line of fire.
    The 'whiny' evacuees; and the Americans left behind, are not the residents of NOLA's Ninth Ward. There are highly educated, well travelled, very articulate people getting the shaft here. I expect we will all hear much more from them in due course.

    Revolutionary words start revolutions

    by Catte Nappe on Fri Jul 21, 2006 at 02:32:20 PM PDT

  •  FDH (0+ / 0-)

    "fat dumb and happy" ... you didn't used to work for Pat Wood, did you? ;0

    Blog this! Visit me at K Street Blues. It will change your life. (Actual life-changing not a guarantee.)

    by AggieDemocrat on Fri Jul 21, 2006 at 02:32:53 PM PDT

  •  Freidman & Stratfor (22+ / 0-)

    I'm a big fan of Stratfor and their analyzes of the current Lebanese situation have been very sharp.  Having said that, be aware that there is a danger of following them too closely.  

    Stratfor sells its analyzes, and makes money by seeing the real strategy behind events.  So, to keep making money, they always have to see a strategy or logic to events, even if there is none.  As an example, for years the tried to frame everything happening in the Middle East and larger world as a giant chess game between wise warlords in Washington and Al Qaeda.  As part of this, they claimed for years the US was just about to make its final move and invade Northern Pakistan.  I think only recently has Stratfor finally admitted that Al Qaeda doesn't control diddly, and there is no giant chess game.

    They do very well now, for instance, when both sides have clearly been preparing for a war for at least 6 years.  In slower times, they come a little closer to manufacturing news that isn't exactly there.

  •  It's times like this (16+ / 0-)

    where I find myself actually nostalgic for Bush the Elder, which makes me slightly ill. Evil bastard, perhaps, but a competent strategist, and compared with his son, a skilled statesman. Of course, Idi Amin would command more respect on the world stage this the current spoiled princeling.

    If I want your pity I'll take it from you by force.

    by Alfred E Qaeda on Fri Jul 21, 2006 at 02:39:31 PM PDT

    •  On Democracy Now (8+ / 0-)

      yesterday, Ralph Nader said W. should call his daddy or Jim Baker or someone with a clue. Or words to that effect.

      What history and experience teach is this-that nations and governments have never learned anything from history... Hegel

      by jayb on Fri Jul 21, 2006 at 03:10:33 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Oooo! Snap! (9+ / 0-)

        You know, a couple years ago I was in the hospital with a broken jaw. A priest came in to give me words of comfort, which annoyed me at the time since my jaw was wired shut and it took great effort to say anything in response.

        Anyhow I asked him about the End Times and whether the end of the world, to a Christian, could be considered a good thing. Jesus coming back, that's good, right?

        He tentatively responded that yes, it'll be great when Jesus comes back.

        "So let's say you're the president," I said (very slowly and carefully). "If you believe things have to get very bad for Jesus to come back, which is a good thing, then if the president starts World War 3 or something, and intentionally causes the end of the world, does that make him a good Christian?"

        The priest looked at me for a long time, and his eyes flitted over to the TV, where Montel was trying to calm down some angry fat girls. He sort of hemmed and hawed and responded that that was kind of a tough question, and he was Catholic anyway.

        If I want your pity I'll take it from you by force.

        by Alfred E Qaeda on Fri Jul 21, 2006 at 03:49:49 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  'Israel set war plans more than a year ago' (14+ / 0-)

    for a "three-week campaign" sez today's SF Chronicle story:

    More than a year ago, a senior Israeli army officer began giving PowerPoint presentations, on an off-the-record basis, to U.S. and other diplomats, journalists and think tanks, setting out the plan for the current operation in revealing detail.

    details on such three week campaign included introducing "ground forces in large numbers" in the third week, but "only in order to knock out targets discovered during reconnaissance missions as the campaign unfolded," there are "no plans for an invasion."

    but of course, once in, how does Israel get out? Rice's plan?

    •  Contingency planning (6+ / 0-)

      That's contingency planning, and every military organization does it. I'm sure that somewhere in the Pentagon, there's a war plan drawn up for a conflict between the US and Canada.  You do this kind of planning long in advance, because when the shit actually hits the fan, you don't have time.  Plus, it didn't take a brain surgeon to see that Hezbollah was a growing problem in southern Lebanon, a threat to both Lebanon and Israel.

      The problem with the cease-fire proposals I've seen discussed so far, including Kofi Annan's, is that they seem to assume that Hezbollah can be convinced to stop fighting, too.  I'm not really sure anyone has the influence to bring to bear on Hezbollah, certainly not Kofi Annan, and definitely not the Bush Administration or any EU country.  Russia doesn't have any influence.

      In loving memory: Sophie, June 1, 1993-January 17, 2005. My huckleberry friend.

      by Paul in Berkeley on Fri Jul 21, 2006 at 02:50:27 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Not really fair (7+ / 0-)

        Hezbollah has repeatedly offered an unconditional cease-fire.  

        •  untrue (5+ / 0-)

          They refuse to return the Iraeli soldiers they are holding hostage without an exchange.  That's not unconditional.

          •  asdf (7+ / 0-)

            actually it is.
            it's just not unconditional surrender.

            Bring the Troops Home. Restore Constitutional Government. Take Back Your Nation.

            by khereva on Fri Jul 21, 2006 at 03:45:18 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  Umm (8+ / 0-)

            Paul said a ceasefire.  Hezbollah has agreed to an unconditional ceasefire.  Israel is demanding the soldiers back before they will even consider stopping their attack.

            •  Parsing words (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              You are, and so is Hezbollah.  Hezbollah wants the firing to stop, but also wants to keep the soldiers whose capture started the firing in the first place.  If you think that's a credible offer, I've got North Dakota oceanfront property that would be perfect for you.

              In loving memory: Sophie, June 1, 1993-January 17, 2005. My huckleberry friend.

              by Paul in Berkeley on Fri Jul 21, 2006 at 04:07:32 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  I'm confused (7+ / 0-)

                what your actual complaint is.  You said Hezbollah would not take part in a cease-fire, but they've clearly said they would.  So, I assume it is something more than a cease-fire you want.  Fair enough, but why not state clearly what you want, rather than simplify it down to "cease-fire proposals," and then claim that anyone who assumes you meant what you said is "parsing words?"

                •  Cease-fire vs. resolution (0+ / 0-)

                  I'm talking about a cease-fire that actually resolves the present conflict, rather than just freezing it in place.

                  In loving memory: Sophie, June 1, 1993-January 17, 2005. My huckleberry friend.

                  by Paul in Berkeley on Fri Jul 21, 2006 at 04:23:19 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  I Understand (5+ / 0-)

                    I agree, a full resolution is much more complex.  And I don't know what could get Hezbollah to lay down its arms.  I don't think this current Israeli mission will do it.  For the talk of a UN force, I don't know what country is willing to send in troops to try to disarm Hezbollah if it doesn't want to be disarmed.  And, unfortunately, the Lebanese government isn't strong enough to do so, and is currently getting weaker.

                    I don't think there is an immediate solution.  I think that a simple cease-fire might be a good idea, then.  In the long run, it is only Lebanon that can absorb/disarm Hezbollah, so the logical goal seems to be short-term fixes and real moves to build up the Lebanese government and society over the long term.  

                    •  Goals (3+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      Abou Ben Adhem, snakelass, Karmafish

                      I tend to agree with you.  I don't think Israel expects to wipe out Hezbollah with this mission, however. I think it understands that Hezbollah is more than just a military organization, and that it is closely integrated with Lebanese society, particularly in the south. I think Israel's main goal is to degrade Hezbollah's military strength as much as possible, and try to push them farther north to take Hezbollah out of missile range of northern Israeli towns. And then to get some kind of serious buffer force to move into the region vacated by Hezbollah. I'm not sure Israel would accept a token UN force, either. There's already a token UN force in place, and it has done zilch to stop Hezbollah.

                      Israel will exchange prisoners for its soldiers, although probably not simultaneously. They've done this in the past. But for Israel, the bigger issue is Hezbollah's presence on the border. [temporary interlude while I watch hot babe stroll by my store window]  

                      In loving memory: Sophie, June 1, 1993-January 17, 2005. My huckleberry friend.

                      by Paul in Berkeley on Fri Jul 21, 2006 at 04:53:08 PM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

              •  Hezbollah also wants to keep their weapons (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Paul in Berkeley, blueness

                and the infrastructure to build back up their losses.

                So they can start this all over again, whenever they feel like it.

                Journalistic standards aren't just for 'journalists', anymore.
                We're all journalists, now.- 8.69, - 9.69

                by shpilk on Fri Jul 21, 2006 at 05:05:53 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  The Elephant in the Room (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:

                  Exactly. That's the elephant in the room -- Hezbollah's twin desires to (1) continue to attack Israel, and (2) ultimately take over Lebanon and run the entire country.

                  Everyone is real big on getting Israel to lay off, but nobody else is willing to step up and put their citizens at risk.

                  In loving memory: Sophie, June 1, 1993-January 17, 2005. My huckleberry friend.

                  by Paul in Berkeley on Fri Jul 21, 2006 at 05:46:43 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  I've wracking my brain for an alternate way (0+ / 0-)

                    to stop this insanity, but quite frankly I cannot find another path - short of Hezbollah simply saying "we are going to destroy all our weapons, let's talk", Israel has no other path open to them.

                    Journalistic standards aren't just for 'journalists', anymore.
                    We're all journalists, now.- 8.69, - 9.69

                    by shpilk on Fri Jul 21, 2006 at 09:52:13 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                •  Look what I found! (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:

                  whats the weather like in berkeley? (1+ / 0-)

                  nice to be watching the sun setting over the bay talking about "degrade hezbollah military strength"..blah blah blah...Who cares about the innocent lebanese civilians.  Oh wait I forgot, there innocent civilians on the other sdie too... so I guess your right we should just sit back and watch this unfold on our flatscreens as the sun goes down the bay

                  by inforet on Fri Jul 21, 2006 at 06:30:15 PM PDT

                    Where are you? (0 / 0)

                       Oh yes, you're at your keyboard. You aren't rushing to either Israel or Lebanon, to help anyone out. So my best advice is this: STFU.

                       *      by Paul in Berkeley on Fri Jul 21, 2006 at 07:12:10 PM PDT*

                              Yes but I'm not going talmudic (0 / 0)

                             on a very real and horific humanitarian crisis like you are

                             by inforet on Fri Jul 21, 2006 at 07:28:08 PM PDT

                                    *'talmudic?' (0 / 0)*

                                   Say what you really think, don't be a coward.  Come on, say it.  You know you want to. Say it.

                                                     by Paul in Berkeley on Fri Jul 21, 2006 at 08:00:48 PM PDT


                  In loving memory: Sophie, June 1, 1993-January 17, 2005. My huckleberry friend.

                  by Paul in Berkeley on Fri Jul 21, 2006 at 08:09:21 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

              Recommended by:
              hester, shpilk, blueness

              Beirut, 21 July (AKI) - Hezbollah on Friday rejected a plan by UN Secretary General Kofi Annan for an immediate ceasfire, the release of two Israeli soldiers held by the Shiite group and the group's disarmament. Hezbollah described Annan's proposal as "unacceptable" in a statement, a copy of which was obtained by Adnkronos International (AKI) in Beirut. "Our leadership calls for an unconditional ceasefire and the start of negotiation on the exchange of prisoners," the statement added.

              Annan announced his plan on Thursday afternoon in an address to the UN Security Council and also called for the deployment of regular Lebanese army troops in southern Lebanon to replace Hezbollah guerrillas stationed there.

              Observers noted the unlikelihood of Hezbollah accepting the plan given that if it complied the group would have to relinquish control of its southern Lebanese stronghold on which it bases much of its political and military power in Lebanon.



              Jul-21-06 14:45

            •  Don't Forget (7+ / 0-)

              Israel also demands that the Lebanese army, which they've been bombing (i.e., killing) has to move into south Lebanon before Israel will consider a ceasefire.

              From Robert Fisk:

              And the sword continues to cut its way through Beirut. When part of an aircraft — perhaps the wing-tip of an F-16 hit by a missile, although the Israelis deny this — came streaking out of the sky over the eastern suburbs at the weekend, I raced to the scene to find a partly decapitated driver in his car and three Lebanese soldiers from the army's logistics unit. These are the tough, brave non-combat soldiers of Kfar Chima, who have been mending power and water lines these past six days to keep Beirut alive.

              I knew one of them. "Hello Robert, be quick, because I think the Israelis will bomb again, but we'll show you everything we can." And they took me through the fires to show me what they could of the wreckage, standing around me to protect me.

              A few hours later the Israelis did come back, as the men of the logistics unit were going to bed, and they bombed the barracks and killed 10 soldiers, including those three kind men who looked after me amid the fires of Kfar Chima.

              And why? Be sure: the Israelis know what they are hitting. That's why they killed nine soldiers near Tripoli when they bombed the military radio antennas. But a logistics unit? Men whose sole job was to mend electricity lines?

              And then it dawns on me. Beirut is to die. It is to be starved of electricity now that the power station in Jiyeh is on fire. No one is to be allowed to keep Beirut alive. So those poor men had to be liquidated.

        •  asdf (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          shpilk, grayslady

          """"Hezbollah this week called for an unconditional ceasefire, but at the same time threatened to unleash a "cyclone" of rockets on Israel. The guerrillas may be trying to drag Israel into a ground offensive, and it's possible they'd rather empty out their arsenal by firing it on Israel than surrender it in a cease-fire deal.

          Hezbollah probably can't publicly push hard for a cease-fire without losing valuable support from the Arab public. A big part of the group's mystique is built on the perception that it's one of the few Arab groups to have never backed down to the Israelis.""""

      •  did you actually read the piece? (7+ / 0-)

        because if so, if you still think the three-week plan as described is simply one of any number of random "contingency plans" with no relevance to on-the-ground reality right now, you'll have to take it up with the Chronicle reporter, and those he quotes (from Israel) in the story.

        otherwise, my point certainly is that this operation was planned, thoroughly planned, hey, they even had a PR component with PowerPoint presentations.

        IMO, it's unlikely that Pentagon senior officials spend a lot of time shopping around PowerPoint presentations of routine contingency plans for various conflicts to foreign "diplomats, journalists and think tanks," and if -- right on the brink of an apparent U.S. ground operation in some country -- if I'd heard a senior Pentagon official had been doing just that, I'd certainly think the plan was worth looking at, as I do in this case as well.

        •  Likely vs. random (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          The US plan to attack Canada is random planning, sure. But that's a bit of a strawman. Israel's plan regarding Hezbollah is alot more urgent, because of the likelihood of some conflict arising.  It's comparable to the US having war plans for the Soviet Union during the 1970s.

          In loving memory: Sophie, June 1, 1993-January 17, 2005. My huckleberry friend.

          by Paul in Berkeley on Fri Jul 21, 2006 at 04:10:12 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  a strawman as far as what? I'm not suggesting (0+ / 0-)

            Israel or the United States shouldn't do contingency planning! whether it's likely or random or whatever (you're the one who brought up Canada, aren't you? not me....)

            I just think taking a look at this apparent plan of Israel's -- or the plan they've been putting forward as described -- is useful. Are you still suggesting that the story is simply wrong, that there is no such three-week plan as it describes, or that its resemblance to on the ground reality so far is sheer coincidence?

            anyway, I'm confused about your comments, but it's time to go -- hopefully people will click the link and find it interesting information.

            •  Oh, we do misunderstand each other (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              I don't doubt the plan exists at all. In fact, I would be surprised if it didn't exist.  It's just that, with all the inflammatory rhetoric that's been volleyed back and forth at DKos over the past 10 days, my assumption (and if may be unfounded) was this -- that the existence of the plan showed that Israel planned to attack Hezbollah all along, yada yada yada.  I think they knew it would probably have to happen at some point, because Hezbollah was a growing problem that nobody was willing to deal with.  Even so, I think they hoped they wouldn't have to deal with it now.

              In loving memory: Sophie, June 1, 1993-January 17, 2005. My huckleberry friend.

              by Paul in Berkeley on Fri Jul 21, 2006 at 04:45:25 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  well, not to continue our misunderstanding i hope (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:

                and thanks for your response above, but as it happens, the story DOES include this quote:

                Of all of Israel's wars since 1948, this was the one for which Israel was most prepared," said Gerald Steinberg, professor of political science at Bar-Ilan University. "In a sense, the preparation began in May 2000, immediately after the Israeli withdrawal, when it became clear the international community was not going to prevent Hezbollah from stockpiling missiles and attacking Israel. By 2004, the military campaign scheduled to last about three weeks that we're seeing now had already been blocked out and, in the last year or two, it's been simulated and rehearsed across the board."

                there doesn't really seem to be a question that the Israeli gov't felt an attack on Hezbollah/Lebanon was inevitable -- the question (as always) is whether it was justified or not, or good policy or not, and (as always), that depends on your point of view.

                As far as why "now" and why not last time there was a potential "trigger" incident or why not next time -- that's a good question, and I don't know why, possibly the growing disorder in Iraq? -- although (possibly because Americans just can't help thinking the whole world revolves around us) I do wonder what the timing might have to do with domestic U.S. politics -- you don't "roll a new product" out in August, remember, and to start in September, we're getting awfully close to the November elections.

                A majority of American voters seem pretty firm in their conviction that the Bush administration's policy of unilateral "preemptive" military action has gone very wrong in Iraq -- and to have a unilateral "preemptive" military action by Israel go sideways -- or even succeed (in contrast to Bush) right around the time people in the U.S. go to vote -- well, I just wonder if that was one of the factors in the timing.

        •  Of course it was planned in advance. NPR (0+ / 0-)

          had a segment earlier in the week (Wednesday, I think), where an IDF general allowed as how this plan was cooked up several years ago and only required the appropriate "trigger" to  set it in motion. Does it really matter that this was planned in advance? Does that make the current action somehow worse?

          "Imagination is more important than knowledge" - Albert Einstein

          by Citizen Earth on Fri Jul 21, 2006 at 04:29:50 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  I didn't say it made it worse. (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Abou Ben Adhem, snakelass, Krum

            personally, this story makes me feel the smallest bit more optimistic about the situation. (especially the quote from the Israeli counterterrorism expert who says Israel has learned from U.S. experiences in Afghanistan and Iraq that longterm occupation is no answer).

            why it matters? Well, beyond the interesting "PR campaign" aspect, if we have an acknowledged plan for a three-week operation, that could answer the question, "Why hasn't the U.S. acted yet?", which has been asked here, and elsewhere.

            but certainly, a plan is one thing; reality is another. As the "military analyst" for the Haaretz newspaper says in the piece: "I have the feeling that the end is not clear here. I have no idea how this movie is going to end."

            and now I really gotta go. thanks for the response.

      •  Russia rules Syria (0+ / 0-)

        If Syria rules Hezabollah, by definition Russia rules Hezabollah.

        You are probable now going to ask for proof that Russia rules Syria so I'll put in a link so that you can get some ide of their relationship.

        •  You only have half the equation (0+ / 0-)

          Russia may have influence over Syria, but Syria's influence over Hezbollah is questionable.

          In loving memory: Sophie, June 1, 1993-January 17, 2005. My huckleberry friend.

          by Paul in Berkeley on Fri Jul 21, 2006 at 04:08:43 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Hezbollah beat Israel (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Krum, elliott

            because Russia helped last time, believe me this time Israel will end up crushed. Putin is considering going to Lebanon to get an agreement for a cease fire, by America stepping down they are allowing Russia and China to step in.

            Russia supports Syria
            China Supports Iran

            Israel backer misssing.

      •  O Canada! (0+ / 0-)

        I've read that Canada's long-standing Defense Order One was recently revised so as no longer to point all the guns south.

        In the old Britsh fort in Halifax NS, there's a fascinating exhibit/diorama done in very loving detail of how Canada might have repelled a US attack on Halifax in the 1850's.

        Then let us learn our range: we are something but we are not everything - Pascal

        by jlb1972 on Sat Jul 22, 2006 at 03:09:08 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Aren't 'ground forces in large numbers'... (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      April Follies, snakelass, Petronella, RAZE

      ...the essence of an "invasion"?  Newspeak?  Or what?

      •  sorry, should be 'no plans for FULL invasion' or (0+ / 0-)

        no plans for longterm occupation. my mistake, not Newspeak really, but certainly, I ask again, this morning, after Israel has sent troops across the border -- once "in," how does Israel get "out"?

    •  IDF intel told them that Hezbollah was massing (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      xynz, Shappy, blueness

      thousands of rockets and missiles for the past 6 years. Hezbollah has been lobbing rockets into Israel for all of that time.

      To not have contingency plans drawn up would be abandoning the security of the people of country.

      We make such a bunch of noise about how we were not prepared for 9/11, and now this as an argument?


      Journalistic standards aren't just for 'journalists', anymore.
      We're all journalists, now.- 8.69, - 9.69

      by shpilk on Fri Jul 21, 2006 at 05:00:15 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  hmmmm, again I have to ask: Where did I (0+ / 0-)

        say Israel shouldn't have contingency plans?

        I think you (and others) are having a "partisan" reaction not justified by the actual content of my post, and certainly not justified by the content of the SF Chronicle story itself.

        I find the details of the plan, as presented in the story, to be interesting, and the reported three-week timeframe, and the disavowal of any plan to re-occupy Lebanon. And I also think it's interesting to hear about the PR effort -- we'd  certainly be interested to hear about the details of any such powerPoint presentations if it was U.S. and Iraq back in March 2003.

  •  Robert Fisk's latest article from today (8+ / 0-)

    (-9.13, -8.10) Political violence is a perfectly legitimate answer to the persecution handed down by dignitaries of the state. - Riven Turnbull

    by Florida Democrat on Fri Jul 21, 2006 at 02:47:49 PM PDT

  •  Call from Lebanese envoy: (5+ / 0-)

    Mike Stark (calling all wingnuts) had the good fortune to be interrupted during a call to Gibson by the Envoy to the US from Lebanon this past week

    It is well worth a listen as the Envoy repeatedly indicates to Gibson that the members of Hezbolla are members of Lebanese society, not necessarily seen as a bunch of terrorist troublemakers.  He also pointed out the difficulties Lebanon has controlling any factions given the country has just thrown off Syrian control.

    In any case, his perspective was really valuable to hear.
    (Thanks Mike!)

    Woe to you, O land whose king is a child -- Ecclesiastes 10:16

    by middleagedhousewife on Fri Jul 21, 2006 at 02:47:58 PM PDT

  •  okay jim, i'll bite (0+ / 0-)

    how do you spin these "investor insights" into gold?
    how do you make a killing off the killing?

    i'm an agnostic, i'd be an atheist if it weren't for mozart

    by rasbobbo on Fri Jul 21, 2006 at 02:48:15 PM PDT

  •  Israelis n US Republicans, Same Methods n Memes (8+ / 0-)

    [Subject line won't post with '&' in it.]

    • The enemy hate us for who we are.
    • They're insane and cannot be reasoned with.
    • They hate our way of life.
    • They only understand superior force.
    • They are uncivilized so they'll defeat us unless we're uncivilized toward them.
    • They have all the obligations of nation-states and none of the rights.

    What am I leaving out?

    Oh yeah:

    • Every one of these policies makes the enemy stronger.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy....--ML King, "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Fri Jul 21, 2006 at 02:51:34 PM PDT

    •  That Is, Our ACTING on These Beliefs n/t (0+ / 0-)

      We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy....--ML King, "Beyond Vietnam"

      by Gooserock on Fri Jul 21, 2006 at 02:52:19 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Some Lebanese Parliament Members Blame Hezbolloh (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        xynz, shpilk, snakelass, blueness

        July 20 (Bloomberg) -- Israel's bombing is fueling a dispute among Lebanon's factions over disarming Hezbollah, whose cross-border attack sparked the conflict.

        ``""""Hezbollah took two Israeli prisoners, and the result now is that 3.5 million Lebanese are being held hostage,'' Samir Franjieh, a Christian member of parliament, said in a telephone interview. ``It's the political path chosen by the Hezbollah and its allies that led to this situation.''

        The outcome of the dispute may determine the future of Lebanon's government, currently a fragile coalition of those opposed to Syrian involvement in Lebanon and pro-Syrian groups led by Hezbollah. Hezbollah's right to bear arms has been the main bone of contention between the two groups.

        Hezbollah was the only militia to keep its weapons after the 16-year civil war ended in 1990. Supported by Syria, Iran and most Lebanese, it fought Israel's occupation of southern Lebanon until it ended in 2000. The Israeli withdrawal and last year's departure of Syrian troops led to calls by anti-Syrian groups for Hezbollah to disarm, as provided for in a 2004 United Nations Security Council resolution.

        Franjieh said the current fighting vindicates the need to implement the resolution, which also calls for the Lebanese government to expand its authority to the border area with Israel controlled by Hezbollah.

        ........``We knew all along that allowing the Hezbollah to keep its weapons will bring such results,'' said Maroun Fares, a 43 year- old Beirut taxi driver. ``Nobody asked us if we wanted the war, if we were prepared for it. We found ourselves suddenly bombed and besieged.''



        •  I hope that's the view of more Lebanese (0+ / 0-)

          than just Hezbollah's opponents in Parliament.

          I think the long-term prospect for Hezbollah's neutralization depends more on Lebanese popular opinion (particularly among the Shi'ites) than on the direct military effect of Israel's attacks.

          <div style="color: gray; font-size: 80%">(-7.88, -8.97)</div>

          by Abou Ben Adhem on Sat Jul 22, 2006 at 11:46:42 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  Look (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      xynz, shpilk, Shappy

      When "the enemy" appears to have the backing of two much, much larger nations in the area, and has as its stated goal the destruction of Israel, I don't think it amounts to the level of paranoia you imply to believe that "The enemy hate us for who we are"

    •  It would be so easy if it were that simple, to (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      xynz, Shappy

      classify the Israelis as being just like Republicans.

      "Israelis" include moderates and leftists who are calling for a cease fire. I'm not saying I agree with that on an unconditional bases, necessarily.
      I am just getting tired of the demonization of "Israelis" as a nation. Very, very tired.

      The facts are, there are real terrorists, with real weapons pointed at a civilian population's head. I won't use the label terrorist to describe the Lebanese people, because they are not.

      But I will use that label to describe Hezbollah, a group that prides itself on the ability to hide amongst civilians. Hezbollah is an organization that is deliberately using civilian infrastructure as a platform to launch attacks, and do it in such a way as to cause civilian casualties when IAF and IDF forces try to stop their operations of terrorism.

      Hezbollah wins the propaganda war with every death of a civilian on either side. Israel loses.

      What would the US have done, lead by a Bill Clinton or an Al Gore, if we were attacked from Mexico ..  by drug smugglers let's say .. and the Mexican gov't refused to help contain the problem. And there were 10,000 rockets being fired into Eagle Pass, El Paso, San Diego and other border towns, the perpetrators hiding amongst civilians.

      What would the response be?
      What should the response be?

      Journalistic standards aren't just for 'journalists', anymore.
      We're all journalists, now.- 8.69, - 9.69

      by shpilk on Fri Jul 21, 2006 at 04:45:53 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Where did the (0+ / 0-)

    "borderline retarded" and "shit sandwich" tags come from?

    Woe to you, O land whose king is a child -- Ecclesiastes 10:16

    by middleagedhousewife on Fri Jul 21, 2006 at 02:55:14 PM PDT

  •  In 1996 these Bush Neocons (3+ / 0-)

    were advocating "a clean break." First- invade Iraq to DESTABILIZE the region - then onto invading Syria and Iran, etc - installing governments that would bow to Israel. Hezbollah wasn't mentioned then.

    "YeeHaw!" is not a foreign policy.

    by annefrank on Fri Jul 21, 2006 at 03:06:06 PM PDT

  •  He is as dumb as a ..... (4+ / 0-)

    ...(your word goes here).  And he blows me away how he acts.  His senior class bully demeanor to Blair's simpering schoolboy closet queen is just hilarious. We elected this guy to represent us as the president of the US when at most he should be selling cars or somesuch job where he would not present a danger to himself and (let's face it who cares if he endangers himself) especially others, us, the citizens of America.  

    AS my old scotch grandfather used to say about men whose ambitions outstripped their talent, that inside, he is a "wee mon!"

  •  Wow (12+ / 0-)

    It is quite refreshing to see a diary on the conflict that isn't a screed blaming one side or the other for starting it.  Rational, clear, and fact-based.  We need more of these.

    We will appoint as...officials, only men that know the law of the realm and are minded to keep it well. -- Magna Carta, #46 (-6.25, -7.18)

    by DH from MD on Fri Jul 21, 2006 at 03:13:27 PM PDT

  •  Howzabout 'Hezbollah for Dummies like Bush' (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    peraspera, snakelass, blueness
  •  Thank you (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    highacidity, peraspera

    Thank you for presenting a balanced view.  Unfortunately, it seems like a lot of commenters seem to believe that your diary implies that Israel "planned it all along."  Hopefully it won't get hijacked.

  •  Impressive, so how do we get Mexico to smash GOP (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    peraspera, LondonYank, Sanuk

    OK, I see Israel is going to wipe out or severely damage Hezbollah.

    Is there anyway to do same trick here?  Get Mexico to wipe out GOP?

    Do the right thing 'casue it feels better.

    by John Boy on Fri Jul 21, 2006 at 03:31:06 PM PDT

  •  And of course, (7+ / 0-)

    when it does go to shit, hostages are taken, possibly killed, you know exactly what we're going to hear.

    "Nobody could have imagined that Hezbollah would take hostages."

    Just. Like. Everything. Else.

    The lone and level sands stretch far away. -Shelly

    by justme on Fri Jul 21, 2006 at 03:31:48 PM PDT

  •  Great diary! (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    LondonYank, myrealname

    Thank you for this. Here's the thing that scares me, ok among many things that scare me, about bushco. I think that Condi is the most competent of them all. I know that it's like choosing which is the cutest spider, but I do. Without her, the resident can't even go to the bathroom. If we have to pin our hopes on her, well.....

  •  One minor issue... (7+ / 0-)

    Your diary is entitled "Hezbollah for Dummies...or Bush. Either one" which implies a difference between a dummy and Bush..


    -6.25, -5.18

    "If you treat people right they will treat you right - ninety percent of the time" - FDR

    by assyrian64 on Fri Jul 21, 2006 at 03:34:33 PM PDT

  •  THANK YOU (4+ / 0-)

    This is such a useful diary.  I'm still working through it. I'm learning so much. I'm taking notes in my PDA so that I can use it as a reference in future reading.

    Why can't we have more diaries like this--not to mention more NYT articles.

  •  Truth: The first casualty of war... (18+ / 0-)

    Facts not reported in the US media.

    The legitimate basis for the IDF's operation was stripped away the moment it began. It's no accident that nobody mentions the day before the attack on the Kerem Shalom fort, when the IDF kidnapped two civilians, a doctor and his brother, from their home in Gaza. The difference between us and them? We kidnapped civilians and they captured a soldier, we are a state and they are a terror organization. How ridiculously pathetic Amos Gilad sounds when he says that the capture of Shalit was "illegitimate and illegal," unlike when the IDF grabs civilians from their homes. How can a senior official in the defense ministry claim that "the head of the snake" is in Damascus, when the IDF uses the exact same methods? ...

    It all started on July 12 when Israel troops were ambushed on Lebanon's side of the border with Israel. Hezbollah, which commands the Lebanese south, immediately seized on their crossing. They arrested two Israeli soldiers, killed eight Israelis and wounded over 20 in attacks inside Israeli territory.

    Gaza, itself, the latest phase, began on June 24. It was when Israel abducted two Gaza civilians, a doctor and his brother. We don't know their names. You don't know the names of victims. They were taken to Israel, presumably, and nobody knows their fate. The next day, something happened, which we do know about, a lot. Militants in Gaza, probably Islamic Jihad, abducted an Israeli soldier across the border. That's Corporal Gilad Shalit. And that's well known; first abduction is not. Then followed the escalation of Israeli attacks on Gaza, which I don't have to repeat. It's reported on adequately.

    •  more details... (7+ / 0-)

      AFP reports...
      Selon la police libanaise, les deux soldats ont été capturés en territoire libanais, dans la région de Aïta al-Chaab près de la frontière, alors que la télévision israélienne a indiqué qu'ils avaient été capturés en territoire israélien.
      Posted Jul 21, 2006 09:34 AM PST
      Category: LEBANON

      ENGLISH TRANSLATION: According to the Lebanese police force, the two soldiers were captured in Lebanese territory, in the area of Aïta Al-Chaab close to the border, whereas Israeli television indicated that they had been captured in Israeli territory.

      HERE 's THE MAP:


      Few readers of a British newspaper would have noticed the story. In the Observer of 25 June, it merited a mere paragraph hidden in the “World in brief” section, revealing that the previous day a team of Israeli commandos had entered the Gaza Strip to “detain” two Palestinians Israel claims are members of Hamas.

      The significance of the mission was alluded to in a final phrase describing this as “the first arrest raid in the territory since Israel pulled out of the area a year ago”. More precisely, it was the first time the Israeli army had re-entered the Gaza Strip, directly violating Palestinian control of the territory, since it supposedly left in August last year.

      As the Observer landed on doorsteps around the UK, however, another daring mission was being launched in Gaza that would attract far more attention from the British media – and prompt far more concern.

    •  I guess shelling families on the beach (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      snakelass, elliott

      didn't provoke enough of a Hamas response to justify "Summer Rain" so further invasion and provocation were needed or the schedule would be thrown off.  What's clear is that "Summer Rain" as no spur of the moment response.  It was planned and organised months in advance, and engineerng the provocation of Shalit's kidnapping was just windowdressing.

      "Americans can always be counted on to do the right thing - after they have exhausted all other possibilities." Winston Churchill

      by LondonYank on Sat Jul 22, 2006 at 12:49:21 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  fascinating analysis (3+ / 0-)

    However, I think there's one deep flaw here, depending on whether you mean should in the sense of moral obligation, or in the sense of reasonable expectation:

    Given Hezbollah's history of hostage taking, the evacuation should have been mandatory and issued immediately.

    Yes, there was a moral obligation. But it was only reasonable to expect that the Bush might do this if you believe that Bush and his Neoconderthals give two shits about the lives of Americans in Lebanon (or indeed anywhere else). None of his actions bear this out.

    Instead, Bush has deliberately let Americans sit in harms way, hoping that they will suffer casualties. If at Hezbollah's hands, this will be used to justify increased aid to Israel and military intervention into the crisis. If at Israeli hands, this will be spun as Hezbollah's doing, and will be used to justify increased aid to Israel and military intervention into the crisis. If news comes out that it was Israeli and not Hezbollah's doing, this will be spun as proof that the Israelis needed our help earlier than this because they're overwhlemed by Hezbollah, and will be used to justify increased aid to Israel and military intervention into the crisis.

    Leading up to midterm elections, there is (let's face it) no way in hell that any meaningful restraint of Israeli action will come from the US. Further, the danger to Americans helps elevate the level of fear in the populace, which together with hate is Bush's sole source of popular support.

    So American caualties can only help Bush-- so evacuation ahead of time makes no sense.

    Bring the Troops Home. Restore Constitutional Government. Take Back Your Nation.

    by khereva on Fri Jul 21, 2006 at 04:03:55 PM PDT

  •  good to see this, advisorjim (4+ / 0-)

    A great, insightful diary. Much needed. I learned a lot, only hope I can retain it for those offline discussions.

    Special thanks for...

    I'm anti-fire.  I could give a shit about who started it or why, I just want the damn fire out.  Once it's out, then let's find out who started it and act accordingly.  

    My sentiments exactly. But thank you for going deeper and helping us with all the great background and analysis!

  •  Thank you for a diary that sheds light (4+ / 0-)

    . . . rather than heat on a complex problem. It is a welcome breath of fresh air. I'm hoping for an international peace enforcement force focused on the goal of Lebanon being able to secure their own country plus humanitarian/reconstruction aid targeted at isolating the violent elements of Hezbollah.

  •  Israel has screwed itself/could lose big (11+ / 0-)

    The Drudge Report (sorry, have to give credit where credit is due) was carrying a link to an article in the World Tribune about how Israel was shocked about little its air attack has damaged Hezbollah operations.


    • Israel may be following down the same path of doom that has led the United States into a quagmire in Iraq.
    • Depending on what stuff Hezbollah has in its arsenal, even sane Israelis who screamed bloody murder to try to stop this war before it started may feel as if they have to keep it up, because now Hezbollah has most of the weapons it ever had and every reason in the world to use them as well as possible. Maybe the only thing that can stop the war is if all Hezbollah really has is the mediocre conventional missiles it's launched so far, or if Hezbollah somehow, through the persuasive powers of Syria, decides to be a force for peace and agree to negotiations.
    • This really shows one reason why it's extremely stupid, as well as wicked, to start an offensive war. The sword with the most power to frighten one's enemies is the sword that has not yet been drawn. In an age of mini WMD, attacking enemies without knowing precisely what weapons they have is potentially suicidal.
  •  One bizarre feature of this diary... (13+ / 0-)
    is that it doesn't actually say why Hezbollah was formed in the first place. All it says is that "Hezbollah began as a Shiite radical group inspired by the Iranian Islamic Revolution." I don't know how inspired they were by that Revolution, but the fact remains that the primary reason they were formed was  to resist the Israeli occupation of southern Lebanon, which lasted from 1992 to 2000. The reason Israel finally got out of Lebanon is that Hezbollah got it out. The diary makes no mention of that occupation. I hope that's not true of the original Stratfor brief.

    A complementary review of the history of Hezbollah appeared today in Counterpunch: Hezbollah, Hamas and Israel: Everything You Need To Know (A perilous excursion into the distant past, starting seven whole weeks ago), by Alexander Cockburn. This article explains that the reason Israel invaded Beirut in 1982 is that the PLO was based there:

    In 1982 Israel had a problem. Yasir Arafat, headquartered in Beirut, was making ready to announce that the PLO was prepared to sit down with Israel and embark on peaceful, good faith negotiations towards a two-state solution.

    Israel didn't want a two-state solution, which meant -- if UN resolutions were to be taken seriously -- a Palestinian state right next door, with water, and contiguous territory.  So Israel decided chase the PLO right out of Lebanon. It announced that the Palestinian fighters had broken the year-long cease-fire by lobbing some shells into northern Israel.

    Palestinians had done nothing of the sort. I remember this very well, because Brian Urquhart, at that time assistant secretary general of the United Nations, in charge of UN observers on Israel's northern border, invited me to his office on the 38th floor of the UN hq in mid-Manhattan and showed me all the current reports from the zone. For over a year there'd been no shelling from north of the border. Israel was lying.

    With or without a pretext Israel wanted to invade Lebanon. So it did, and rolled up to Beirut. It shelled Lebanese towns and villages and bombed them from the air. Sharon's forces killed maybe 20,000 people, and let Lebanese Christians slaughter hundreds of Palestinian refugees in the camps of Sabra and Chatilla.

    The killing got so bad that even Ronald Reagan awoke from his slumbers and called Tel Aviv to tell Israel to stop. Sharon gave the White House the finger by bombing Beirut at the precise times -- 2.42 and 3.38 -- of two UN resolutions calling for a peaceful settlement on the matter of Palestine.

    Funny guy, Sharon.

    Liberalism is the origin and center of American politics. Thus, to reject liberalism is to reject America.

    by Alexander on Fri Jul 21, 2006 at 04:49:43 PM PDT

    •  Complex politics (7+ / 0-)

      It's interesting to note what actually was the excuse for the first Lebanon invasion.  As I remember, Saddam Hussein sent Abu Nidal to try to assassinate an Israeli diplomat in London.  Sharon claimed that this attack by a Palestinian working for Iraq in London was the equivalent of rocket fire from Lebanon, and so invaded.  Saddam Hussein want to start the war for two reasons.  One was to punish Syria which had been helping Iran in the Iran-Iraq War.  The second reason was to get out of that very war.  Immediately after Israel invaded, Saddam issued a statement calling for the end of the war and all muslims uniting against Israel.  Of course, he didn't actually do any thing.  Iran, on the other hand, rejected the statement and rejected an end to the war, but did send a large amount of resources to Lebanon and helped to create Hezbollah.  Nothing is ever what it seems.

  •  Extremely off topic (5+ / 0-)

    but, this is driving me crazy! I heard Dubya at a press conference in the past couple of days referring to Hezbollah as Hezbaling. (think bling bling)

    Did anyone else hear this...or am I finally losing it?

  •  Taking a critical eye to the WWIII talk... (0+ / 0-)

    Handicapping World War III talks about all the many things that could go wrong, in a world in which the government of the one remaining superpower has --- willfully, perhaps -- taken its eye off the ball.

    [end pimp]

    I wonder what Tom Friedman will be wrong about next. :)

    by cskendrick on Fri Jul 21, 2006 at 05:01:57 PM PDT

  •  Thanks Jim! (0+ / 0-)

    Very insightful.

    War is NOT a preventative measure.

    by demandcaring on Fri Jul 21, 2006 at 06:24:06 PM PDT

  •  Thank you Jim -- A Miraculous Diary (4+ / 0-)

    Mark July 21, 2006 as the date of the first Kos diary on the Middle East war not to flame up into charges, recriminations, emotion, pity, fear, trembling, heads exploding and angst.

    Your wonderful talent is to use the vernacular for compelling narratives of the right wing mindset, and now a technical analysis of the ME.  Your take on each paragraph of the Stratfor analysis was great.

    The Democratic Message: Security, Privacy, Justice

    by Upper West on Fri Jul 21, 2006 at 06:31:12 PM PDT

  •  Nice Work But (0+ / 0-)

    I think you're missing some important points--

    the end game as always is Iran. it's now obvious Iran is the winner in Iraq-- bushco's bullcrap attack and invasion of Iraq helped serve up southern Iraq to the Sh'ia in Iran on a silver platter.

    Iran is funding and arming both Hamas and Hizbollah, thereby thumbing their big thumbs right in the face of the hapless bushco.. and what is bushco going to do about it? carpet bomb Iranian alleged nuke facilities and military targets?


    Israel can certainly crush Hizbollah over the next tow weeks-- so what? millions are pissed off enough to eagerly take their place.

    "Peace is not the absence of war; it is a virtue; a state of mind; a disposition for benevolence; confidence; and justice." Spinoza

    by Superpole on Fri Jul 21, 2006 at 06:36:13 PM PDT

  •  Wildfires analogy = brilliant! n/t (0+ / 0-)

    Essential funk: 'Indictment' by Antibalas

    by pontechango on Fri Jul 21, 2006 at 06:48:38 PM PDT

  •  Best diary title ever (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    truong son traveler

    and to top it all off, a damn fine diary. I somehow feel a bit less of a dummy after that. Oh well, my wife will disabuse me of that notion pretty quickly.

  •  Does anyone wonder about (2+ / 0-)

    the 130,ooo thousand possible hostages we have trapped in Iraq?

    Wow this was so insightful.

    I can't every seem to get anything done. I am always up to my eyeballs trying to stay current and informed on the latest crises, so I feel I can at least talk half way intelligently about it.

    I always remember this saying, from whence I can't recall.

    War is God's way of teaching us geography.

    Fascinating about the Iran/Saudi fued. Persians v Arabs.

    It seems as though everything we do strengthens Irans hand.

    I am with you...... I'm anti-fire. They should cease and desist this conflict immediately. I don't care who started the fire.

    Overthrow the Government ~Vote~

    by missliberties on Fri Jul 21, 2006 at 07:44:18 PM PDT

  •  Childish Analysis at its finest! (0+ / 1-)
    Recommended by:
    Hidden by:
    station wagon

    You don't absorb the lessons of a conflict hundreds of years old by reading one paper.

    Hezbollah has never moderated, either in message or action.  So sayeth Nasrallah:

    Nasrallah has said Hezbollah is proud to be called a terrorist organization by the "Great Satan." He has repeatedly argued that the United States is the cause of all Lebanon's woes.In the wake of the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003, he explained that "death to America is not a slogan. Death to America is a policy, a strategy and a vision."

    Hezbollah is enriched by Iran, which itself has been enriched by oil sales.  These sales have enabled the purchases of sophisticated weaponry and know how from Russia, as evidenced by the sophisticated bunkers and tunneling systems and advanced weaponry being used against Israel.  The reason for the current conflict is most likely a miscalculation by Nasrallah and the 'weakness' shown by Israel in withdrawing from Gaza.  Hezbollah has everything to lose by engaging Israel as Israel looks like it's serious in degrading Hezbollah.

    Bottom line is, if you didn't know about Hezbollah, 26 years after they killed 241 Marines in Beruit, 24 years after the hijacking of TWA flight 847, the 1992,1994 bombings of Jews in Argentinia or the hundreds of suicide bombings, mortar attacks, and incursions into Israeli territory before you read that paper, then you sir, are a complete and utter idiot.  

    I just learned more about this conflict in reading this diary than I have learned from the corporate owned media in the past two weeks.

    Ditto for you as well.

    "It takes a big man to cry, but it takes a bigger man to laugh at that man."

    by Kid Dynomite on Fri Jul 21, 2006 at 07:52:01 PM PDT

  •  Speaking of dummies (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    truong son traveler

    Hezbollah for Dummies...or Bush. Either one.

    Dummies... or Bush?  Same thing.

  •  Excellent diary. (0+ / 0-)


    Daniel Schorr on NPR said Bush didn't think Americans were in jeopardy in Lebanon.  

    this is an audio link at NPR  Bush's comment is at 1:25.  "There is no evidence that Americans are being directly targeted."

  •  I doubt the awakening (3+ / 0-)

    I'm gonna miss these guys when America wakes up.

    With any sort of truth in Media entirely pushed to the end of a dying NPR/PBS (thank God for Nova/Frontline/Wide Angle/P.O.V, but who is really watching?), America sleeps more and more with each coming "crisis".

    Can Kossaks really believe that Liberal causes are not getting eviscerated everyday by the MSM?

    I guess from their perspective it would be better for our citizens to end up as hostages.

    Yes. Absolutely.

    The Chickhawks love Americans' dying overseas, well, anywhere for that matter. What better way to control the general public than through "I told you so" fear mongering? For that is what the Neocons are good at. Very good at.

    What, two days after the latest "crisis" in Israel and Lebanon there are reports throughout the MSM in prime time about Hezbollah's presence in the United States, planning attacks, funneling money, etc. The MSM never says anything about this before. Why report it now? Because the MSM were all given press releases saying so.

    A punch in the face leaves a bruise for days after.

    by feedthemtothelions on Fri Jul 21, 2006 at 08:39:46 PM PDT

    •  Let's get rid of the decaf dispenser (0+ / 0-)

      I understand you sentiment. I just hope that enough Americans do eventually wake up and have a long, hard look at what is going on all around us.

      It never ceases to amaze me how many of our fellow citizens are so detached from everything else except that which is going on in their tailor-made little microcosms. They don't appear to follow current events, they don't seem to know who the current political leaders are or what they are doing, and their reading may very well be limited to the local T.V. Guide. And as lacking as the MSM is in balanced coverage, it's probably better than nothing, but a lot of folks don't even watch the evening news.

      I believe that the magnitude of this disconnect is a major contributing factor in perpetrating a government that is not accountable to the electorate. And unfortunately, it may be necessary for even more terrible events to occur before enough folks get their synapses fired up and hear the call to action.

      But I think that it will happen. The American collective consciousness is like a lumbering giant. It needs about three cups of coffee in the morning before you can have a meaningful conversation with it.

      •  I gave up thinking it will happen, only recently (0+ / 0-)

        It is weird, talking about "Amercians" as if they are a different group of people, or a different species. You know, "Americans are.... Americans will...." That said, I will continue doing so.

        I don't see it as They don't appear to follow current events, etc. But that they don't at all follow current events, etc.

        I think any appearance of not following things is that too many people rely solely upon one or two TV programs, one or two radio shows, and a newspaper or two, for all their information about what is going on.

        It is widely know, for example, that Fox News causes people to misunderstand things. But of course, no one watching Fox or listening to non-NPR/PRI radio would ever realize that.

        There really is extreme ignorance in America. Just read the "letters to editors" in magazines and newspapers and you'll see.

        One has to read everything that one can get their hands on to even start to see reality. (One must also not trust the first reports about enything, even by normally non-biased sources. Very few people seem to understand this.)

        CNN, MSNBC, FOX, the Sunday News shows, McLaughlin Group, et. al. are all horribly inefficient at getting out facts. They are, what?, 80-90 percent opinion about assumptions and speculation.

        There are many fact checking websites like Media Matters for America, The Daily Howler and The NonSequitor that expose the most popular, and most listened to, pundits in America as being mostly wrong when it comes to getting their facts straight.

        I look at people on the far right like Limbaugh and O'Reilly and I wonder what America would be like if people like them were at the top levels of government. Well, they are!

        Look at what Newt Gingrich and the ORGANIZATIONS that have people like him at the top have done to control the GOP. Gingrich and PNAC like to gloat about their goals of world dominiation. They really do. But noone says anything about that. On the contrary, many people have fallen for their "We are spreading Democracy" line. Not understanding that that means making what's left of the world to be controlled into a MARKET for cheap labor, raw materials, and American framchises to sell hamburgers, soda and movies.

        (Many people, and I am sure some here, will naturally think that spreading such "democracy" is a good thing. But in the end it simply makes the current class of those well-off remain well-off at the expense of the rest of the developing world. Too many people are not getting all the benefits of "democracy" as we spread it. In fact, many other people are getting pissed of at it.)

        American is not about spreading democracy. It is about spreading American Corporate "friendliness" (Can one even call it Capitalism today?) under the guise of "elections."

        During the Cold War "We" had to stop the spread of Communism, for the Soviets were bent on world domination, and "We" did many bad things to other countries to prevent the "domino effect." (Like Vietnam and Cambodia and Guatemala and Phillipines and Chile and Venezala and Iraq and North Korea and the list goes on.)

        Now the World sees America doing precisely what America condemed Russia for! Spreading their way of life on the rest of the world! America is spreading its way of live on the rest of the world! Bush says so all the time!

        And when one studies the Vietnam war aftermath, one sees (so far as I've been able to see) that the "domino effect" was wrong.

        But I read history books. And not as near as many as I really need to!

        Do you imagine that most Americans would even contemplate examining the U.S. role in Vietnam, when all they have to do to "understand it" is to watch a few movies?

        Most Americans despise the idea of other "cultures" becoming more prominent in the U.S. But those same people somehow have been convinced that the American culture needs to be spread to the rest of the world, that they should be more like "Us".

        But what does "Us" mean?  Ask the families of the One Hundred Thousand dead Iraqi!

        No. We are screwed.

        (Man, I should make this a diary entry.)

        A punch in the face leaves a bruise for days after.

        by feedthemtothelions on Sat Jul 22, 2006 at 10:21:34 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  great diary, as usual, but... (5+ / 0-)

    I agree that Iran has an excellent chance of benefiting from this conflict, but a clear distinction should be drawn here--it doesn't necessarily follow that Iran willfully incited or precipitated these events as well. The situation itself doesn't seem that unusual--Hezbollah captures two Israeli soldiers, and proposes a prisoner exchange with Israel, as they have done in the past--in 2004, for example:

    The three soldiers in the latest swap, Benny Avraham, Adi Avitan and Omar Suwaeid, were abducted by Hizbollah while on patrol near the Lebanese border in October 2000.

    Sound familiar? But this time, instead of having a prisoner exchange to recover their soldiers, Israel went after Hezbollah. No Iranian conspiracy there. However, what has Iran been saying about all this:

    Iran's foreign minister, Manouchehr Mottaki, has called for a cease-fire and a prisoner exchange between Israel and the Lebanese militia Hezbollah.

    Those sneaky Iranians!

  •  wb advisor Jim...great diary (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Whenever I need to know what's going on in the ME, I run, do not walk, to to find out the real story. He had a guest poster, Dr. Parsi (7-20) who had a most interesting take on this matter. His idea was that the incursion into Lebanon by Israel is a pre-emptive strike to subvert the coming retaliation from the US's coming strike on Iran. Given the unseemly coziness of US/Iraeli foreign policy, it does seem to answer the "foot dragging" question of both evacuations and Condi's venture into this matter. Something to consider.

  •  Did Israel already kill soldiers they try to save (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Hezbollah exists within and controls one small area in the city of Beirut, Lebanon. Hezbollah takes a couple of Israeli soldiers captive. Is it not likely Hezbollah would take their Israeli captives to this one area which they control? Would this not also be the one area in which they would be much less likely to have neighbors report seeing Israeli soldiers being hauled around? Where, other than in this one area would they be more likely to have a place prepared for hiding their captives? And finally, just how likely is it that Israel has already killed their own soldiers, with their rescue being the single reason given for this atrocity?

    When NSA employees are spending their days spying on Americans, what is it they should actually be doing, and what is slipping by because they aren't?

    by MuldraughTim on Sat Jul 22, 2006 at 12:20:38 AM PDT

  •  Neutralizing Hezbollah. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I post these references elsewhere.

    The reference this diary is based on is more subtle historically, but as far as Hezbollah is concerned, its creation in the early 1980s has also been attributed to Sharon's invasion of Lebanon, and possibly Sharon's collaboration with the Christian Falange. Hezbollah are Shiite Moslems, who have lived in southern Lebanon for centuries. Hezbollah cannot be militarily defeated for that reason alone. But it can be defeated.

    The best analysis of the Lebanon incursion was provided by Rami Khouri, Jordanian-Palestinian editor of a Beriut newspaper, on the Charlie Rose Show a few nights ago. If you missed it, his articles and those of others listed on his site render some understanding of the current conflict and what Israel needs to do to overcome its Arab foes, like Hamas and Hezbollah, as well as Syria and Iran. Basically, it is this: resolve the core conflict between the Israelis and Palestinians. It is the source of everything bad in the region including antiAmericanism. Until it is resolved, nothing in the Middle East will change. Resolution will eventually neutralize these factions in their enmity toward Israel, because it will no longer be in the best interest of the Palestinians.

    The Charlie Rose interview might be available on Charlie Rose's site for a fee.

    Another article listed on Khouri's site provides the view from the ground and how America's role in all this is seen over there.

    Why Israel is Destroying Lebanon  
    by Patrick Seale

    Read Jeffery Sachs' The End of Poverty.

    by shergald on Sat Jul 22, 2006 at 05:02:43 AM PDT

  •  Fantastic article! (0+ / 0-)

    The only thing I might have a different take on is how things might work out for the American citizens over in Lebanon. Perhaps the outcome won't be so dire. After all, look at the other challenges the Bush administration has faced in the past and how successfully they dealt with them . . .

    . . . oh, yeah. Never mind.

  •  simple (1+ / 1-)
    Recommended by:
    Hidden by:

    Here is the simplest explanation of what is happening .  If Israel where to lay down all their weapons today...islamo-facist would kill every last Jew in Israel.

    If Hezbollah and hamas were to lay down all their weapons today...they would lead a normal life with no intervention by Israeli forces.

    Fact of the matter is anyone Christian, Jew, Muslim, Hindu - that has coupled "holier than thou" rhetoric with a ghost (god) and is armed will be dangerous.  

    Just look at the American Taliban (Christians) and there violent effort to kill abortionist.

    This mentality is universal and so people don't jump on the I hate Israel bandwagon - b/c your really sticking up for Nazis.

  •  simple (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Here is the simplest explanation of what is happening in the Middle East.  If Israel where to lay down all their weapons today...islamo-facist would kill every last Jew in Israel.

    If Hezbollah and hamas were to lay down all their weapons today...they would lead a normal life with no intervention by Israeli forces.

    Fact of the matter is anyone Christian, Jew, Muslim, Hindu - that has coupled "holier than thou" rhetoric with a ghost (god) and is armed will be dangerous.  

    Just look at the American Taliban (Christians) and there violent effort to kill abortionist.

    This mentality is universal and so people don't jump on the I hate Israel bandwagon - b/c your really sticking up for Nazis.

  •   The war is inevitable-let's get it over with (0+ / 0-)

    logical correlary: The earthquake in California is inevitable so we should cause it to happen.

    Must be a death worship. There's a Sarte "Nausea" feel to the the current state of events like there's a historical inertia taking place and everybody knows that horrible things are about to happen- Rawanda Vu.
        How about _ Fuck all that- let's not and say we didn't. Didn't I hear Shimon Peres say there was no chance that Israel was going to invade south Lebanon? Irael is massing troops on the border. So Shimon Peres has chosen to support the Big Lie to try to gain a strategic advantage in this war. Shimon, you have lost my respect. I shit on you now and toss you on the pile of bullshit warmonger sellouts. Say "Fuck you" to Colin for me.

    Pop-gun president lying with impunity, soundbyte policies and photo opportunities

    by Dave the Wave on Sat Jul 22, 2006 at 08:01:10 AM PDT

  •  Really excellent AdvisorJim (0+ / 0-)

    This diary taught me a great deal about the strategic situation in Lebanon.  My guess is that besides the US, the other loser in this may be Israel if they are unable for any reason to break the infrastructure of Hezbullah --

    Clearly -- we (the US) is the horse's ass again...but what's new under this regime?  Will there ever be any adults who can stop this regime from doing its ongoing incompetent thing or do we have to suffer a long two or three more years?  When will it end?

    ..Don't ask "where are the leaders. WE are the leaders!

    by SwimmertoFreedom06 on Sat Jul 22, 2006 at 08:54:32 AM PDT

  •  Unity is the myth; Opportunity is the reality (0+ / 0-)

    I've always thought that there were major holes in any argument, going all the way back to just after the oil shock of the mid 70s, that events in the Middle East were driven more by interests than ideology.

    In a way, you agree implicitly with David Brooks--who only seems to make sense when he is on the PBS Newshour. Last night, he said essentially that there are two competing views among conservatives on international military engagement to "set things right" as it were. The view that we meet evil with strength, an approach that he said was typified by Winston Churchill, is what had dominated U.S. foreign policy--certainly since 9/11, and that attitude itself proved opportunistic and driven by interests, not ideology.

    The other view, which Brooks seems to be endorsing now and which prevailed back to Goldwater and even back to the opposition of U.S. entry into WWI and WWII is that societies are complex, and jumping in to do something dramatic is, more likely than not, going to fail. This seems to be where Condi is drifting, only because she and George and Donnie fucked up everything so bad there's no other moderately safe harbor left.

    Quis custodiet ipsos custodes? (Who will watch the watchers?)

    by The Crusty Bunker on Sat Jul 22, 2006 at 09:05:36 AM PDT

  •  Quotes from right wing are shocking (0+ / 0-)

    Unreal, even.

    Be good to each other. It matters.

    by AllisonInSeattle on Sat Jul 22, 2006 at 09:15:05 AM PDT

  •  I wonder.. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    is this really about terrorism or is it about the poor and downtrodden, the worlds ill and poverty stricken, the "lower class" up rising against an oligarchy world government of the extreme rich and priveleged...who would rather keep the "peasants" in their place....?

  •  Hezbollah humiliated the IDF, which wants revenge (0+ / 0-)

    Hezbollah, a popular movement representing the Shia of southern Lebanon, defeated the IDF occupiers, forcing an Israeli withdrawal from Lebanon in 2000. Hezbollah is a legitimate political party and a part of Lebanon's elected government, but it must be demonized and destroyed because it has thwarted the will of the vicious little apartheid state.

    "Men use thought only to justify their wrongdoing, and employ speech only to conceal their thoughts." Voltaire

    by chimpwatch on Sat Jul 22, 2006 at 10:07:25 AM PDT

    •  Of course. (0+ / 0-)

      Which is why, six years after the Israeli withdrawl, Hezbollah is still lobbing missiles at Israel instead of trying to build up their own country.  

      Leaving aside the question of

      the vicious little apartheid state

      (spoken, by the way, like someone who has never been to an apartheid state), maybe Hezbollah should be deamonized and destroyed because it's a terrorist organization acting as a paramilitary arm of two terrorist governments.  

      The IDF wants "revenge"?  I don't know about you, but kidnapping soldiers inside the territory of a sovereign state and launching missile attacks on its cities is about as act-of-war -ish as you can get.  I hope Israel goes in, shatters Hezbollah, and gets out as fast as it can.  

      •  Chronology is important, and so is the truth (0+ / 0-)

        Hezbollah did not begin firing missiles into Israel until after Israel began dropping bombs on civilians inside Lebanon. If Israel's cause is so righteous, why are do her supporters find it necessary to distort the facts when defending her? By the way, calling an organization or government "terrorist" is a substitute for thought and analysis, and the term I believe is intended to prevent the possibility of thought and analysis. What Israel is doing in Lebanon is "terrorism" by any definition. Is Israel a "terrorist state?" Since the end of WWII the US has overthrown elected governments in Iran, Chile, and elsewhere, installing brutal dictatorships. Isn't that "terrorism?"

        "Men use thought only to justify their wrongdoing, and employ speech only to conceal their thoughts." Voltaire

        by chimpwatch on Sat Jul 22, 2006 at 03:35:53 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Excellent diary... (0+ / 0-)

    Thank you

    "A child miseducated is a child lost" John F. Kennedy

    by Pam from Calif on Sat Jul 22, 2006 at 11:04:24 AM PDT

  •  excellent analysis and precis (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    of Middle East dilemma. The way I see it is that since the majority of he population of all Middle Eastern nations are young men with no prospects except to make their names as either suicide heroes or militia militants the pressure from the bottom on all leadership, whether militant, authoritarian or totalitarian of all denominations is immense. This is probably why taking Saddam Hussein out was probably not a good thing as he, albeit brutually, kept that particular hive of hornets nests in relative balance.  From that point of view Bush's fanatical design to impose democracy from above can only result in chaos eventually embroiling the entire region as they will all fight it out with each other. The result given the rest of the world's insane dependance on oil will be complete economic chaos worldwide. There does not appear to be any win/win solution unless Arab governments relinquish the absolute authority they maintain over their citizenry, support the peace process in Israel and Palestine, prevent militant groups from attaining too much control and try and maintain the balance and treat everyone fairly by giving their people economic incentives on an equal footing and treat men and women alike and allow freedom of religion. Hey, that sounds like democracy!  There appears to be as much hope of that as me flying on my broomstick to the moon and back tonight.  The path US foreign policy, led by the almost unbelievable ignorance of history of this administration is leading the region to a lose/lose situation that will inevitably escalate.  The solution? beats me, but the least we as American citizens can do is to be less dogmatic and understand that sometimes a little tyranny is the only thing between us and chaos. And start electing our leaders based on their competency and not their rhetoric. It is us who also need to look carefully into our own hearts and souls and stop viewing the globe as a football game. Fat chance. Compromise and negotiation must be viewed as signs of strength and not weakness. How is it possible for a region of the world as roiled by turmoil for centuries as this one find universal peace and justice when even in America we still find it necessary to pass a Voters Rights Bill giving a large segment of the population the right to vote that is the rock bottom foundation of America's constitution.

  •  Well . . . (0+ / 0-)

    There were tens of thousands of foreigners scattered around Lebanon at the start of this crisis ten days ago. None have been taken hostage.  How credible is this theory?

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