Some Questions Regarding Israel’s Objectives: Is Israel Trying to Curb America’s Deal-Making in Middle East?

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When I visited Israel in March, one of the more interesting dinner discussions I had was with former Mossad Director Danny Yatom, now a Labor Party member of the Knesset.
As head of the Mossad, Yatom gave orders to have the head of Hamas, Khaled Meshal, assassinated by poison. The effort was botched, and the failed attempt became globally embarrassing news for Yatom and then Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
But the fact remains despite this one failed case that Israel has been extremely skillful at knocking off serious enemies in covert, lethal, under the radar screen ways.
Why is Israel pounding most of Lebanon rather than just the South and rather than pinpointing its attack against Hezbollah assets? Why the dramatic bombing of explosive fuel centers? The attacks both in Gaza and in Beirut seem made for Fox News, CNN and the next Schwarzenegger movie.
I think that there is little doubt that a significant part of the explanation can be attributed to the fact that Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and his more liberal partner in this effort, Amir Peretz — now Defense Minister — are not former field command generals and want to demonstrate that they can be responsible stewards of Israel’s national security — and that they won’t be timid in using Israel’s military capabilities.
But that doesn’t explain it all. The Israeli response to the Hezbollah incursion is exactly what Hezbollah wanted. Adversaries rarely give each other the behaviors the other actually desires unless there are other objectives involved.
My view is that three broad threats were evolving for Israel from the American side of the equation. One one front, the U.S. will be attempting to settle some kind of new equilibrium in Iraq with fewer U.S. forces and some face-saving partial withdrawal. To accomplish this and maintain any legitimacy in the eyes of important nations in the region — particularly among close U.S. partners among the Gulf Cooperation Council states — America “might have” tried to do some things that constituted a broad new bargain with the Arab Middle East. The U.S. had even previously flirted, along with the Brits, in trying to get Syria on a Libya like track and out of the international dog house.
There was also pressure building to push Hamas — or at least the “governing wing” of it — towards a posture that would move dramatically closer to a recognition of Israel. Abbas was becoming increasingly entrepreneurial in creating opportunities for the constructive players in Hamas to squirm towards eventual negotiations with Israel that could possibly be packaged in terms of “final status negotiations” on the borders and terms of a new Palestinian state. George W. Bush is the first President to actually call the Palestine territories “Palestine” and may have eventually come around on trying to pump up Abbas’s legitimacy as the father of a new and different state. I am doubtful of this scenario — but some in Israel had serious concerns about this unfolding.
Lastly, despite lots of tit-for-tat tensions and enormous mistrust, Iran and the U.S. were tilting towards a deal to negotiate about Iran’s nuclear pretensions and other goals.
Some in Israel viewed all three of these potential policy courses for the U.S. — a broad deal with the Arab Middle East, a new push on final status negotiations with the Palestinians, and a deal to actually negotiate directly with Iran — as negative for Israel.
The flamboyant, over the top reactions to attacks on Israel’s military check points and the abduction of soldiers — which I agree Israel must respond to — seems to be part establishing “bona fides” by Olmert, but far more important, REMOVING from the table important policy options that the U.S. might have pursued.
Israel is constraining American foreign policy in amazing and troubling ways by its actions. And a former senior CIA official and another senior Marine who are well-versed in both Israeli and broad Middle East affairs, agreed that serious strategists in Israel are more concerned about America tilting towards new bargains in the region than they are either about the challenge from Hamas or Hezbollah or showing that Olmert knows how to pull the trigger.
Another well respected and very serious national security public intellectual in the nation wrote this when I shared this thesis that Israeli actions were ultimately aimed at clipping American wings in the region. His response:

the thesis of your paper is right-on.
whether intentional or coincidental, that is what is being done right now.

I share these other views only to establish the fact that there is not a consensus either in support of or opposed to Israeli action — but some are beginning to scrutinize what Israel is seeking to achieve with such flamboyant displays of power that are antagonizing whole societies on their borders.
Keeping America from cutting new deals in the region — which many in the national security establishment thinks are vital — may actually be what is going on, and the smarter-than-average analysts are beginning to see that.
To take one moment though and argue a counter-point to this, one serious analyst I spoke to this morning who stopped by to talk after attending synagogue raised a good point. He said that he thought that Olmert’s insecurity about military management was driving the over-reaction.
But he also said that the QUALITY of the attacks against Israel were freaking out the Israeli military and intelligence leaders. Complex incursions that included abductions along with a successful attack on an Israeli gunship show that the enemy is no longer an unimpressive, rag-tag lot. Training and armaments have been improved, and Israel is scrambling to figure out how this happened.
Interesting thesis — and it should be on the table too.
More later.
— Steve Clemons

Comments

85 comments on “Some Questions Regarding Israel’s Objectives: Is Israel Trying to Curb America’s Deal-Making in Middle East?

  1. magrete says:

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    Sincerely
    Yours.
    Miss Magrete Benson

    Reply

  2. Saleh Babeker Yahia Saleh says:

    M/S. The Granddaughters and Grandsons of the Prophets,
    Dear Israeli People,
    At first, I want to introduce my self: Saleh Babeker Yahia Saleh, Married and have 2 daughters, but they still a children, I was Borned in Sudan in 15th May 1958, so I am very happy and proud, because it was the same date of the (new)Israel 10th years’ celebrate, But concerning the circumstance of my life: For far too long time, I have had to suffer injustice of a very difficult life, full of anguish and disappointment, in spite of my talents, hard work, and seriousness efforts, but nevertheless and because I am a Religious man, I am still optimistic and keeping more patience, That because I think all that is a sort of the examination, so I realize that the God will help me to get rid of all that distress, So here, I will not describe or mention all that difficulties which I have been faced for long time, So I’ve mentioned a part of my character in the bottom of this comment.
    Notice, above, I’ve mentioned (NEW Israel), that because I’ve read in the history books, that the Israel People had Lived in the land of Jerusalem, before 6 thousand years ago, when their Grandfather the Prophet Abraham was lived in Hebron Town(El-Khalil Town) and borned his sons Ishmael and Isaac, so that the Prophet Isaac bornen the Prophet Jacob who also called Israel, and so on, There were a range of the Prophets were his Grandsons, so until now we still live with their Grandsons and Daughters, But nowadays, there are many People are in wrongly thinking when they think, that the Israel Country was founded only in 1948, and that land is own to Palestinian People, but I think, if they read the history books as properly, of course they’ll change their opinion, because the Prophet Abraham live there before 6 thousand years ago, and the Palestinian People were came about 3 thousand years ago, they came from Kriti Island(Greece), and stayed between Gaza and Askalan after chased the Kan’an People, so that gave their name (Palestine) to all that land. In Jerusalem, there are a Holy Mosque which called in Arabic(Bait Almaqdes) it had been built on a Holy Rock (Zion), So that Holy Rock was discovered by the Prophet Jacob, But many Islamic People are thinking by the wrong, that the Arab People who had built that Holy Mosque, Therefore, many of them support the Palestinian to take that Holy Mosque from the Israel People, But if they read and understand the Holy Koran as properly, They’ll find that Holy Mosque was built before the Prophet Mohammed borned Dear Friends, I think the Israel Government by the generosity, have done a kindly decision when they accepted and allowed the Palestinian people to take Gaza ant the other lands, in order to build their Country on it. But many of the extremist and radical Arab and Palestinian and even some of the Muslims in many part of the world, are not satisfied, so they want the Palestinian People stay in all over that land, and the Israel People go to the sea, But I think they will change their opinion in the future when they realized that, they can not take that land by the war, nor by their Prays and hopes which they have been doing and asking the God for more than one thousand years in the Mosques and every where, to ruin, destroy, and even kill all the Israel People and any other people who supporting the Jewish People, But I think the God has not accepted their Prays and hopes, On the contrary, Actually the God still continuing making exactly the opposite indeed, Because He still supplying the Israeli scientists with the Best Minds to continue discovering the far space and manufacturing a Huge and unaccountable helpful instruments, etc. in order to leading this World to the safe and right way. So if really the extremist and radical Islamic Countries are hate the U.S.A and Israel People because they are not Muslims, Why they have been building a good economy relationship with many polytheism Countries who are still worshiping the Portraits, Cows, Buddhism and even a Godless People who are not believe that there are not any God at all ??. So I think the Arab are actually jealousy and enviousness, because the U.S.A. and Israel’s Civilized and modern technology which the God supplied their Scientists, Therefore, these Testimonies are what made me realized that the Israel People are in the right way, because if they are in the bad or wrong way, Of course the God will accept that Prays and hopes of the extremist and radical Islamic People which they have been asking Him for all that long time.
    Also the other reason which make me realize that, the Israel Country is owned to the Israel People and not to the Palestinian People, is that, Most of the Israel towns have two names, But always the Jewish names are more antique than the Arabic names, So obviously that means the Israel People had lived on that land before the Palestinian People. But at the final adjustment when the Palestine Country stand up beside the Israel Country as the home rule, I suggest that you should not lenient and nevermore accept to revert But never even share the Jerusalem Town with any Palestinian People, that because it is the land which the God: Chosen, Allocated, Dedicated to be as a Holy Town, spotless, and the Land of the Miracles, the Center Point which most of the Prophets had released from, in order to carrying the God’s Orders and tell all the People, Moreover, the Prophets who were YOUR Grandfathers, had bequeathed that Holy Land to You. So, I have obtained all this information from the Holy Koran, But the Extremist & Radical Arabian and Islamic People, By the malevolence, have been try hardly to hide many of the clear truths which the God mentioned in the Holy Koran, and in the other Holy Books. At the Schools, they try to convince and concentrate to the young students, that the Israeli People had occupied Palestine Country from the Muslims People in 1948, so that they asking those young students, they should thinking that the Israel People are their enemy, so when they become a major men, they must fight against the Israel People, So that is what we see happening nowadays. But I realize that, the Israel People are not occupancy, so I think they only returned back to their homeland after many centenaries of the great injustice.
    Finally, I hope the God cure your last Prime Minister Mr. Ariel Sharon, and bless all the Semite Israeli People, who are the Grandsons and Granddaughters of His Prophets.
    Dear Israel People,
    As I’ve read more about the Israel people’s history, I’ve realized that the Jewish People are the Greatest people, that because they are the Granddaughters and Grandsons of the many Prophets, also, I noticed that the God has mentioned the Prophet Moses in the Holy Koran more than any Prophet else and the Prophet Moses was the only person who had spook with the God Directly, and the God told us that the Israel people had lived in that area for many thousand years before the Palestine people, Therefore, I love the Jewish people, so because of that, I wrote the below comment in order to advice the extremist and radically Islamic people.
    —————————————————————-
    Advice to the Extremist & Radical Islamic People:
    Dear Brothers,
    I want to ask you, that you should change your opinions about the U.S., and the European people, Please don’t think that the U.S.A. is the enemy or against the Islamic Religion, Please open the Holy Koran, Of course you will read, that the God tells us that if He was want to make all the people in the same one Religion, He can do, So you should know, that only the God who can convert the people to the Religions. Also you will read in the other parts of the Holy Koran, that the God tells us, that He has created the people from male and female (except the Prophet Adam & his wife and the Prophet Jesus) so that made them in the different cases of the colors, shapes, languages, etc., and the God said, that the best one of all, are those who be the honest Godly, believed and trusted that there are only one Great God .
    Dear Muslims,
    In the Holy Koran, the God told us, that He had sent many Prophets, to several different people, before the Prophet Mohammed, Also the God told us, that He had landed 3 Holy Books, The Holy Torah, The Holy Bible, and The Holy Koran. But the three Holy books are carrying the same God’ s orders, For example, the God has asked all the people to worship him, by Praying and doing the good things, such as; helping the poor people and stop doing the bad things which causing the injury and hurting the people, such as; killing, stealing, lying, and He has asked us to run totally away from the Devil’s advices and tricks, that because it is against the God’s Orders .
    Dear Muslims,
    If you read the Islamic history books, you will find, that before 1428 years ago, the Prophet Mohammed had lived in peace with the Jewish people in the same town, which called (Medina), in Saudi Arabia, and often he was visiting the Judaism’s homes when somebody of them was ill. Also the Prophet Mohammed told us, that if any person said, that he has surely believed that there are only one Great God, we should stop calling him a deny or Godless, also in the Holy Koran, the God asks us, that we should discuss and with the Christian and Jewish people politely, that because they are not polytheist, and the God had sent many Prophets from their Grand Fathers, so of course until now we are still living with their Granddaughters and Grandsons, Also if you read the Prophets’ stories books, you will find, that before many thousands years ago, the Prophet Jacob (also he called Israel), he was the first person who discovered the Holy Rock (Zion), so that he built the Holy Mosque on it, which is in Jerusalem (In Arabic called Bait Almaqdes), so as you know, all the Prophets after him had visited that Holy Mosque, even our Prophet Mohammed,. Of course you have noticed that all the U.S. bills of the Dollars are carrying this phrase: IN GOD WE TRUST, so that what means the U.S. people are not deny, nor Godless. So as the extremist and radical Islamic People could not oblige any people in the world to belief only Islamic Religion, I think they should stop slander the Islamic Religion by the terror which many of them have been doing.
    Dear Muslims
    I would like to inform you, that the U.S. and the European people, are not our enemies or against the Islamic Religion, that because these people have been invented and developed the world, in order to make it getting up and more better, by their modern technology, as you can see nowadays, They have been manufactured a huge amount of the good and helpful things which are very important for all the people, even Muslims, for example the medicines and all the medical equipments, Also we use their manufactures of: lights, fans, carpets, loud speakers, etc., in our Mosques, also the modern printing press, to print the Holy Koran, also please remember, that when the Muslims decide to travel to Mecca in order to visiting or to get the Pilgrimage (Hajj), of course they have to get in one of their manufactures of the transportations, also don’t forget, that those people have invented and developed the compass, which helping us to know the direction of Mecca from any where of the world, also the watches and the alarm clock, which tells us the time of the praying and help us to wake up to praying on time, and so on of the huge unaccountable inventions and the helpful manufactures .
    Dear Muslims,
    Lastly, Please don’t forget, that the U.S.A and Europe, who which had found the U.N. which have been giving their assistances to the people in all countries, all over the world. Also the U.S.A, has been developed many of the development countries, in order to make them become more better and more rich, such as most of the European countries at the Marshal Project, after the second world war in 1945, also the U.S.A had developed Germany, Japan, Taiwan, South Korea, Singapore, and the six Arabian Gulf countries. So for these unaccountable helpful things which these people have been doing, I thing that the God helps them in order to lead the world to the safety and security way.
    Finally, As the U.S.A. is my great lovely country, I am proud supporter of the U.S.A. and hope the God Bless the U.S.A. and asking you to repeating with me : LONG LIVE THE U.S.A., The place of the freedom and the real democracy, in all over the world, Whereas the President does not candidate his self at the election more than twice times. Yes Long Live the U.S.A. that because the Lion always stays in the front, however, even the Enemies accept or not .
    Yours faithfully,
    Saleh Babeker Yahia Saleh
    P.O.Box:1171 Omdurman, Sudan E-mail: salahaghbash@hotmail.com
    ——————————————————————————————————————————–
    M/S. The Granddaughters and
    Grandsons Of the prophets
    Dear Israel People,
    Here, I will mention a part of my character, in order to enable you know more about my self: My hard working life cycle, was started in 1979 when I finished the secondary school and my certificate was enable me to pass to the university, but as my family were poor, I obliged to had stop to entering to the university, so worked as a taxi driver, but beside that, I was joined in the evening institute in order to learn more English language. So as I’ve got many talents and desire to know trading orders, I began to correspond many letters with many companies around the world, so after a period of time, I’ve got a good experience and a wide knowledge in how to build import & export transactions, But as I haven’t got an enough capital of the money which enable me to stand up my own business order, I continued working as a taxi driver for many years, but time by time, I was always tried to convince some Businessmen to putting their hands with mine, in order to widen their business, but at first they have not trusted and believed me, but after showing them many letters and catalogs which I’ve received from many companies and factories, they convinced to financing some orders to importing Bicycles, Spare Parts, and Foodstuffs. So they were gave me some commission for each order. But in 1996, when their sons and relatives have learnt at the universities how to build a business orders with the foreign countries, of course they had transferred all my services with them to their relatives, but I’ve continued working with them as a distributor for their goods.
    Dear Sirs,
    I want to inform you, that since I was a youth, I was grown as a Religiosity boy, so I was always thinking about the enmity and differentiation between the three Peoples who believed the same 3 Abrahamic Religions: Jewish, Christian, and the Islamic People. Therefore, I have been reading many history books and comparing their stories with what the God told us in the Holy Koran, so I’ve concluded that, most what we read at the Arabic schools and heard and seen in the Arabic media about the Israel’s history, was not truth, they always tell us a bad news about Israel People, but actually, on the contrary, I concluded that , the Israel People are in the Right Way, therefore, the God always helps them, so that what revealed and inspired me to write the bove comment. But because of my supporting to the U.S.A and the Israel People, I’ve got too difficulties and suffered too much from the extremist and radical Islamic people who hate the U.S.A. and the Israel People, also consequences of that, I confronted disputations with many extremist and radical Islamic People, But continually, I tried so hardly to prove that the U.S.A. is the first and the leader country which giving the a huge and several assistances, in order to help the poor people to avoid the miseries, anguishes, miserable, etc. So by the perseverance and more patience, I tried so hardly to convince them that the U.S.A. have been helping the poor countries for more than 100 years, and I’ve gave the many testimonies and evidences which prove that all what I was said was true, But they have not even consented my advice, and they’ve begun to flee me. Therefore, some time I am thinking to travel abroad in order to find a better chance of the livelihood, but as I am only the sole male among many sisters beside an old parents who are really need my help and assistance, so I should continuing more patient and stay with them and hoping may the God accept my hope so will reward me with a better job in the future, that because I love and support the Grandsons and Granddaughters of His Prophets. So if you read my above comment carefully, you will conclude that the U.S.A. and the Israel People have inspired all my admiration and my respect so much.
    Finally, Once again, I hope the God Bless the U.S.A. and the Israel People who are the Grandsons and Granddaughters of the Prophets.
    Yours faithfully,
    Saleh Babeker Yahia Saleh
    E-mail:salahaghbash@hotmail.com
    Notice, if you want to send me any letter, please send it only by the e-mail, Not by the regular post mail.

    Reply

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  4. karenk says:

    Brian,
    Here are some websites regarding Ariel Sharon’s “war crimes”, a UN Resolution against Israel for holding Lebanese prisoners for no reason, etc, Read my friend and then perhaps you’ll know why some American “nutcases” believe that Israel is a state sponsor of terrorism. Perhaps they’re more well read and open minded than you are. They are able to see both sides, not just Israel’s.
    http://www.emjournal.pwp.blueyonder.co.uk/ap03083.html
    http://www.hallhistory.com/top/sites/10/1/ariel_crime_sharon_war.html
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/programmes/panorama/1381328.stm
    http://www.pmwatch.org/pmw/features/sharonlawsuit.html
    http://www.emjournal.pwp.blueyonder.co.uk/may03040.html

    Reply

  5. Frank says:

    Brian, what would be sickening is if you saw five americans on a roof in Haifa, dancing with joy as the Hezbollah rockets slammed into that port city. That image with the five Israelis dancing as the WTC crumbled, was burned into my psyche since 9/11, and has caused me to follow middle east politics more closely. In doing so I have learned that my country is far from being an honest broker in the ME. That coupled with the disgraceful coverup by my country of the calculating Israeli attack on the USS Liberty , has left me with the belief that we are a vassal of Israel.

    Reply

  6. Pissed Off American says:

    pissed off american:
    buy another six pack and lock the door on your trailer.
    “get out of OUR country?!?!”
    this is MY country too!
    Posted by brian
    Really??? Than act like it. You want to explain to us why this clusterfuck in Iraq is unfolding, or our educational system is in the crapper, or our ports are unprotected, or there are millions of Americabns that do without healthcare, while we send COUNTLESS BILLIONS of dollars to Israel so they can commnit mass murder and strategic oppression? Lets here it….. Why are we sending billions to Israel when we can’t even educate our own kids or help the blacks in New Orleans find replacement housing??
    You aren’t an American, you’re an embarrassment. Go kill Arabs with YOUR OWN money.

    Reply

  7. brian says:

    pissed off american:
    buy another six pack and lock the door on your trailer.
    “get out of OUR country?!?!”
    this is MY country too!

    Reply

  8. tony says:

    Steve … without fanfare, simply agree with you.

    Reply

  9. Pissed Off American says:

    “you have no idea who i am, or where i’m from or what i’ve done with my life. it seems HIGHLY foolish to make assumptions about an anonymous stranger that you’ve been debating online. ridiculous actually.
    Your comments speak for themselves. It is true we have no idea about WHO you are, but it is obvious WHAT you are, and that is enough. As Steve pointed out in the next thread, Americans, on BOTH ends of the lefty/right spectrum are beginning to recognize the kind of horseshit you and your bloodthirsty ilk, such as that ass Kristol are spreading as being HARMFUL to American interests. And if your road is HARMFUL to American interests, then exactly WHOSE interests do you pursue?
    Get out of our country, Brian. and take these fanatical pricks like Kristol with you.

    Reply

  10. Wesley Parish says:

    Firstly, that is a very good assessment of the situation. The Israeli elite has always acted in that way, I would guess. Certainly that thesis would apply to the Suez disaster as well – suck in the Great Powers, so Israel won’t have to make peace.
    But – and this is what really bugs me – you say this:
    “the abduction of soldiers — which I agree Israel must respond to”
    What about this?
    http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3271505,00.html
    Look who’s been kidnapped, by Arik Diamant
    “No one wrote about it in the paper. European diplomats were not called to
    help him. After all, there was nothing out of the ordinary about the
    kidnapping of this Palestinian kid. Over the 40 years of occupation we have
    kidnapped thousands of people, exactly like Gilad Shalit was captured:
    Threatened by a gun, beaten mercilessly, with no judge or jury, or
    witnesses, and without providing the family with any information about the
    captive.”
    Thousands of Palestinians have been “disappeared” by Shin Bet. If Israel – no, make that the US Fe[de]ral Government – had any decency, they would _NOT_ be justifying that sort of treatment. That falls well within the definition of terrorism as promulgated by various US Federal agencies and defined in several US Federal laws – which in theory are binding upon the US Fe[de]ral Government.
    Are Arabs – look, I could go on forever, quoting hundreds upon hundreds of Jewish comments about the systematic abuse suffered at the hands of the Christian kingdoms of Europe – and relate them to the systematic abuse of the Palestinian population. Jewish Israelis are quite anti-Semitic once you start quoting Jewish historic back at them. “If you prick them, do they not bleed?”
    That’s why this whole thing has got both the US and Israel in a flat spin. The Tsarist Republic of Israel and the Monarchy of the US have forgotten their common humanity.

    Reply

  11. brian says:

    this is not my comment directly above. not sure if someone is being creative or was attempting to copy my alias.
    nonetheless, i would also urge americans not to support those islamist groups dedicated to your and israel’s destruction.

    Reply

  12. brain says:

    Please, Americans, don’t you see that Hizzbolla dislikes you, kills your soldiers, kidnaps your citizens, only because you support Israel’s right to exist after the Jewish people have been persecuted worldwide for a thousand years. Americans are the champions of the underdog and persecuted. Please, Americans, do not turn now from your natural ally Israel, and support your enemy, the terrorists Hizzbolla and Hamas. A new day will arise if we are united in our hearts and minds in this Global War on Terror which your President bravely declared.

    Reply

  13. Leslie says:

    Me thinks Steve’s analytical imbroglio underestimates Bush/Cheney’s penchant for ‎‎manipulation while giving them far too much credit for diplomacy. — Although it ‎‎probably never occurred to them, I’m sure they’ll be tickled pink by his version of things.‎
    I, on the other hand suspect Cheney has been working diligently around the clock for ‎‎many years now, advising Israel of the terrifying terror that surrounds their every border. ‎‎I can only imagine his relief after all the encouragement he and Bush provided, that the ‎‎pusillanimous have finally decided to fight and crusade… ‎
    And what happens now? Well, the real fun starts, America’s benighted by an oxymoronic ‎flow ‎of head spinning information. Should the US bomb Lebanon and do we need the ‎draft? — I ‎don’t know; there’s just something about mayhem, ‎anarchy, war, and death ‎that keep ‎Cheney’s heart ticking. ‎

    Reply

  14. MarcLord says:

    DaCascadian:
    Of course, you’re here, and hello again. Look forward to meeting you over another beer sometime. Not many people are aware of SCO or its implications, nor the significance of Huntington’s quote. Not even here. Can we pass the baton without trying to blow up its recipient? It has been done, and we’d better try it. Every top dog gets old, but its retirement doesn’t have to mean being torn apart. It can lay down its pretenses with grace, and be left in relative peace. Civilizations can clash gradually. Like they have in Detroit.

    Reply

  15. daCascadian says:

    And why now ?
    Israel & the U.S.A. sense that their advantage is slipping away & their “window of opportunity” is closing (as mentioned above) and one of the key factors is the coming together of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization w/Iran becoming a member very soon (SCO = Asian NATO); their meeting this year was in late June
    For those that dabble in Geographical Strategic Analysis, SCO is the realization of the great fear; the coming into being of the Heartland controlled by a single entity to focus on the destruction of all opposing power in the Rimlands (look it up folks – Halford MacKinder etc)
    Many are the threads that must be knited together to create the clear picture of reality & many of them are here in the comments
    Start knitting folks !
    “…the West won the world not by the superiority of its ideas or values or religion…but rather by its superiority in applying organized violence. Westerners often forget this fact, non-Westerners never do.” – Samuel P. Huntington

    Reply

  16. Carroll says:

    Dear Brian…
    As Rhett said to Scarlet…”Frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn”.

    Reply

  17. brian says:

    by the way carol, i just re-read your post, and congratulations… it may be the dumbest thing i’ve read on any of these comment sections.
    sorry to be so blunt, but c’mon now…

    Reply

  18. brian says:

    carol:
    i find it HIGHLY offensive that you are discussing my religious beliefs. ESPECIALLY SINCE I HAVE NEVER DISCUSSED THEM ON THIS BLOG!!!
    you have no idea who i am, or where i’m from or what i’ve done with my life. it seems HIGHLY foolish to make assumptions about an anonymous stranger that you’ve been debating online. ridiculous actually.
    what if i told you that i’m 39 year-old sikh man from a small villiage outside of amritsar, india? what if i told you that i spent 2 years living carmiel, israel after studying in amman, jordan and addis ababa, ethiopia?
    … and, what if i told you that i AM an american who DOES “support this country’s support” of israel?
    please everyone, let’s not personalize this debate.

    Reply

  19. Carroll says:

    Huummmm….I think I have a solution for Brian and SoMo and the posters who identify themselves as hawkish supporters of Israel’s actions and the US involvement in their war because they are Jews.
    There is no doubt that the majority of Americans do not support our support of Israel and particularly their current actions.
    Therefore I propose that only American-Jews and their evangelical supporters be drafted into the military to serve in any offensive by the US in Israel’s behalf or any further wars in the ME.
    And that a special tax be levied on all Jewish Americans, various of their organizations and the evangelical treasure chest to cover the total cost of paying for said war if it occurs, and all other aid to Israel.
    If there is any objection to this then I suggest we send all American Jews and evangelicals between the ages of 18 and 58 who favor a war in the ME to Israel as our contribution to their war instead of sending taxpayer money and weapons.
    As an American, Israel means nothing to me, I have no interest abroad other than humanitarian. And as a informed person and realist I am totally aware that neither Iran, nor any of the other axis of evils actually represent any threat to the US soil proper. Therefore I see no reason for any one who is not an Israel supporter to die for the loyalties of American Jews or religious delusions of evangelicals or pay for Israel’s actions or their goals.
    Seems very fair to me. I am going to suggest this to my own congressman and a few others tomorrow.

    Reply

  20. brian says:

    nice thought, carol. praying for more death, huh?
    WAY WAY off mark, per usual.
    but, what do you expect from someone who bases
    their opinions on heresay. never having visited
    israel, lebanon, gaza, syria, iran, et all, your
    opinions mean about as much as my pet cat.

    Reply

  21. elementary teacher says:

    I keep thinking about another factor to be considered in any complex international analysis: Timing. For one example, the Hezbollah commandos crossed into Israel *on the same day* that Iran was supposed to give its answer in response to the incentives package offered by five permanent Security Council members plus Germany if it would suspend uranium enrichment and enter negotiations to bring it into compliance with the IAEA. No answer was forthcoming from Tehran and Security Council members expressed “profound disappointment” at Iran’s refusal to respond. They stated that “have no choice but to return to the United Nations Security Council” to consider possible sanctions against Iran.

    Reply

  22. Carroll says:

    jose1007
    I read that site when it first started up but didn’t find much value there. I did notice that every comment on the Isr issue is banned there except for the ones that are whacko and vile enough to make the Israel opposition look like Aryan nation nutcases.
    You can pretty much guess where sites get their funding and support by what they ban…anyone who bans opinions for anything other than really nausating profanity or true ethnic or minority hate speech has an agenda, or agendas, and is nothing but an echo chamber. Not worth reading or wasting your time on.

    Reply

  23. Carroll says:

    While waiting for more information or observations from Steve I see Israel is still digging it’s own grave with these indiscriminate civilian killings.
    Let’s hope it ends in the same way all suicide bombers do … killing themselves to kill their enemy…..deader than a doornail.

    Reply

  24. jose1007 says:

    Steven:
    Just to alert you on the Huffingtonpost active censorship when it comes critical issues.
    I respond with a commentary to your “Some Questions Regarding Israel’s Objectives: Is Israel Trying to Curb America’s Deal-Making in Middle East?
    As it appears my post was censured. I wonder if you are keep in the dark when it comes to your readers response.

    Reply

  25. Matthew says:

    Did Brian call himself a “pro-Israel sock puppet”? Sarcasm is only funny if the target gets it…

    Reply

  26. brian says:

    karenk wrote:
    “some american believe that the state of israel is as much a state sponsor of terrorism as the unnamed terrorists.”
    like hezbollah and hammas?!?! yeah, a very few NUTJOB americans who will NEVER be in a position of political power… thank God!
    pissed off american:
    blah blah blah blah rage rage anger anger hate. i’ve finally got it; your real name is david duke!
    POA wrote:
    “israel’s actions are on a par with nazi germany’s”
    hahahahahaha, herr commandant! keep railing away in political oblivion, you fool! isn’t it time for your dose of lithium?!
    God willing, the democrats “tent” won’t be big enough for the likes of you, or else we’ll all be in BIG trouble.
    and yes, dan, i am a pro-israel “sock puppet,” although i can assure you that i am not part of a coordinated cadre of puppets.

    Reply

  27. Matthew says:

    Great analysis, Steve. For once, an American is talking about Israel as a real country! You know the ones that advance their own interests…like our own. We spend so much time throwing cliches at each other that we never expect Israel to act like a true nation state. Think it through. Israel’s benefit of withdrawing from Gaza was economic. They could disengage from Palestinains and if things worked out they could build their own maquiladoras in the Strip. I am always amazed that Israel’s defenders and detractors never address that fact that Israel is a country–like all countries–that wants to strengthen itself at its neighbors expense, maximize its influence, and look out for its own interests first and always. And, of course, when our interests do diverge–as they do now–Americans will feel “betrayed” because America’s “friend” wants it own way. If we don’t have the national fortitude to always put our own interests first, then we deserve the current situation.

    Reply

  28. MarcLord says:

    To Slo Moe, et al:
    There’s another simple, far more productive way to look at Israel’s general position. It is this: you’re either part of the problem or part of the solution, and right now ISRAEL IS PART OF THE PROBLEM. Yes, that was intentional shouting, because if Israel isn’t smart enough to figure out how to get along with hundreds of millions of Muslims, it is doomed. So I suggest you get cracking, Slo Moe, and become part of the solution. Are you capable of doing that?
    Asking someone to get over a black and white rape-victim mentality may be asking too much, but you don’t have much choice. Or time. The muslims have nothing but time, and you can’t kill or control them all. Why not be smart? Israel’s actions are making new enemies, and uniting them together with old ones. Yet if Israel did not exist, the countries around it would be fighting amongst themselves, so there is a way out. Are you mensh enough to figure it out, or do you want there to be nothing left of Israel but a greasy spot?

    Reply

  29. elementary teacher says:

    MNPundit, In response to your question about PAC’s in another thread, here are a couple of sites you might want to check out.
    <a href=http://www.prisonplanet.tv/members/surfanon/surf/surf.php?url=uggc%2Sjjj.gurjnfuvatgbaabgr.pbz%2Szg%2S%26dhbg%3Ouggc%3N%2S%2Sjjj.nvcnp.bet%2Snobhg%2S%26dhbg%3O%26tg%3Ouggc%3N%2S%2Sjjj.nvcnp.bet%2Snobhg%2S%26yg%3O%2Sn%26tg%3O
    <a href=http://www.prisonplanet.tv/members/surfanon/surf/surf.php?url=uggc%2Sjjj.gurjnfuvatgbaabgr.pbz%2Szg%2S%26dhbg%3Ouggc%3N%2S%2Sxftabgrf1.uneineq.rqh%2SErfrnepu%2Sjcncre.afs%2Sejc%2SEJC06-011%26dhbg%3O%26tg%3Ouggc%3N%2S%2Sxftabgrf1.uneineq.rqh%2SErfrnepu%2Sjcncre.afs%2Sejc%2SEJC06-011%26yg%3O%2Sn%26tg%3O

    Reply

  30. Pissed Off American says:

    ‘Thou Shalt Not Criticize
    The State Of Israel’
    The Zionist ‘Prime Directive’ For Obedient Americans.
    Commentary
    By Dick Fojut
    7-15-6
    http://www.rense.com/general72/thou.htm
    The “PRIME DIRECTIVE” has been slavishly obeyed over many decades by America’s Major “News” Media, Congresses (Democrats AND Republicans), White Houses – and “Christian”-Zionist zealots (who outwardly claim to be followers of the “Prince of Peace” – but support ANY warfare and slaughter they naively think might BENEFIT their cherished “State of Israel”). With members of America’s major media is the real threat that: “Those who foolishly dare criticize Israel swiftly lose their jobs.”
    Apparently assured complete immunity from any American government and media criticism, the giant over-armed Jewish “ELEPHANT” (world’s fourth largest conventional military with 5,000+ tanks and home-flattening bulldozers, with 40,000 Palestinian homes flattened to date) continues to crush lightly armed or unarmed middle east “mice” using Israel’s decades-honed tactic of massive STATE TERRORISM attacks, collectively punishing and terrorizing entire populations.
    Americans seem vaguely informed because our Israel-obedient major media have been “reporting” the increasing horror with an Israeli “spin,” portraying Israel as “THE INNOCENT VICTIM, DEFENDING ITSELF.” We’re supposed to believe the giant “victim” Israeli military ELEPHANT is defending itself against tiny “terrifying” mice. Are America’s major media (especially the TV networks) first “filtering” their daily “news” reports through Tel Aviv propagandists?
    Arrogantly ignoring ALL Geneva Conventions, Zionist-ruled Israel has ACCELERATED its collective punishment with the destruction of electrical plants, water, sewage and other public infrastructure vital to the very survival of millions in Gaza – and now millions in Lebanon. This is in addition to Israel’s stoppage since January of Food, Finances, Commerce and movement of Medical transportation, etc., throughout Gaza, collectively punishing Gaza’s people for electing HAMAS as its government. This is not a “democratic” Israeli “War ON Terror” – but Israel’s one-sided TERROR WARFARE ON its defenceless, victimized neighbors.
    And yet we hear not a peep of criticism from Israel’s American media sycophants. Instead of justified criticism, we hear the Zionist concocted, disproportionate excuse, mindlessly parroted repetitiously by Bush and Rice that: “ISRAEL HAS THE RIGHT TO DEFEND ITSELF!”
    Yet the terrified populations and freely elected Governments of Gaza and Lebanon do NOT have that same “right?” Not in the fawning eyes of Americans who obey the Zionist “Prime Directive.” ONLY the Israeli military ELEPHANT is permitted that “right.”
    Apparently, being non-Jews, Palestinians and Lebanese, Muslims and Christians alike, are somehow less than “human” and have NO “right” to defend themselves against the unceasing daily butchery of Israeli STATE TERRORISM – Israel’s ONE-sided TERROR WARFARE against its defenceless Muslim neighbors.
    ALSO PRETEND THAT TINY THREATENED, “WEAK” ISRAEL DESPERATELY NEEDS AMERICA’S MILITARY PROTECTION (AND MONEY)
    One slavishly obeyed sub-command from the Zionist “Prime Directive” is to PRETEND “tiny” Israel’s military arsenal is NOT bloated with over 400 nuclear warheads, third or fourth largest stockpile in the entire world! And PRETEND those nukes would NOT be delivered by Israel’s high tech aircraft, submarines and even giant intercontinental Missiles – or nuclear warheads be fired from Israel’s thousands of tanks, artillery and field missile batteries. (All exorbitantly financed by good-willed, but naive American taxpayers.)
    Pretend Israel’s nukes do not exist.
    Fellow Americans, try to awaken from relentless Pro-Israel media brainwashing about the contrived Bush/Blair “war on terror” (really, their excuse for war on Muslim “enemies” of Israel) – and the Israeli regime’s phoney initial assertion it greatly “fears” a few crazy suicide bombers and the relative pin-pricks of admittedly inaccurate and ineffectual rockets launched by dissident non-government groups in Gaza. The new annoyance of also inaccurate, but more destructive Hizbollah rockets, adds slightly to our media’s pretense that Israel is the “frightened victim” of “terrorists.”
    By what we see now happening, Israel’s heartless Zionist rulers have “welcomed” the rockets (and the exaggerated incidents of a few “kidnapped” Israeli soldiers) as “provocations” to “justify” unleashing Israel’s MASSIVE MILITARY FIREPOWER upon the defenceless civilian populations and infrastructure of two neighbors. Absurdly, Israel is even now bombing individual Gas Stations. Will “terrorist” cafes be targeted next?
    Not widely reported by most of our structurally pro-Israel major media, Israel has “kidnapped” and imprisoned, some ten thousand Palestinians, many without charges, including many women and children. “Terrorist” mice?
    Our obedient-to-Israel, bowing and scraping President Bush seems to be imitating standard Israeli “conduct” with his own captives (uncharged “potential dangerous terrorists”) at Guantanamo and other secret American prisons.
    Israel’s justifiably TERRIFIED middle east neighbors understand that IF Israel’s ruling regime feels IMMINENTLY threatened by a nuclear competitor (not just potentially in the very DISTANT future as with Iran), the paranoid Zionists currently ruling Israel, could (and most probably would) unleash Israel’s nukes and literally incinerate all neighboring countries the crazy Zionists think are immediate threats to Israel. The governments of every Muslim neighbor and their millions of citizens live daily under the very REAL THREAT of instant Israeli Nuclear annihilation.

    Reply

  31. Dan Kervick says:

    I have noticed since this conflict began that the incidence of pro-Israel sock puppetry has gone up in several of the blogs I visit. I wonder if this is just a spontaneous effect, or a coordinated campaign.

    Reply

  32. Pissed Off American says:

    Jewish Americans like brian and I are for Israel, period, and we got the Chutzpah to inform you properly as to how you must view this situation. You are filth if you are for the terrorists, period, and we will communicate our disgust to you each time you defend your sworn enemy because you hate Bush so much.
    Posted by Slo Moe
    The above kind of horseshit is EXACTLY why this debate never gets ANYWHERE. Has even ONE of these blithering idiots addressed the beach murders, or how the ongoing razing of farmlands helps secure the release of the captured Israeli soldiers? Israel is simply, at this moment, engaged in a policy of MASS MURDER of the destruction of the Palestinian and Lebanese infrastructures. And their contention that THEIR actions are “self defense”, while the Muslims actions are “TERRORISM” is despicable. Damned near EVERY NATION in the UN condemns Israel’s actions, except of course the United States, whose choice of that antagonistic asshole Bolton as an “diplomatic ambassador” pretty well telegraphs who WE pimp for. Isreal’s actions are on a par with Nazi Germany’s, and I am truly ashamed that our leaders support Isreal, and abet them in their abuse of human rights, doing so in OUR NAME with OUR MONEY. With every child that dies in Israel, in Palestine, and in Lebanon the blood becomes thicker on the floors of OUR White House and on the floors of OUR capitol’chambers.
    I KNOW where the DISGUST needs to be focused, and it sure as hell isn’t towards those that question and deplore mass murder and strategic oppression. People like Slo Mo and Brian should shag thier asses toot suite over to Israel and pick up an Uzi if they are so convicted in their beliefs.
    AFTER they renounce their American citizenship.

    Reply

  33. karenk says:

    “Jewish Americans like brian and I are for Israel, period, and we got the Chutzpah to inform you properly as to how you must view this situation.”
    Slo Mo:
    I am an AMERICAN-got it? AMERICAN. No foreign nation’s interests should ever come before America’s to AMERICANS. How dare you insist on telling AMERICANS how we “must” view any situation regarding any foreign nation. Some AMERICANS believe that Israel is as much a state sponsor of terrorism as the un named “terrorists” you speak of. Israel doesn’t give a damn about America’s interests(they bombed and destroyed all the exits out of Lebanon, stranding thousands of American citizens in a war zone). Israelis worry about their interests first and foremost. AMERICANS need to do the same. You need to decide where your loyalties are and live in that country.

    Reply

  34. brian says:

    gary sugar wrote:
    “After all, America is the only country in the world where a majority (64%) believes that “The story about Moses parting the Red Sea so the Jews could escape from Egypt …”
    not true! the REALLY surreal truth is that our sworn, mortal, islamist enemies also believe in the divine reveleation of the old testament, i.e. that God parted the red sea.
    strange but true.
    remember, in the middle east, it’s cousin fighting cousin (in the case of the arabs fighting the jews and brother fighting brother (in the case of the sunni fighting the shia)

    Reply

  35. ThomasM says:

    >>Actually, the Palestinian abduction of Israeli soldiers was a response to the Israeli abduction of 2 Palestinian civilians the day before. Israel has no right (let alone requirement) to respond to Palestinian retaliation other than to release their hostages.

    Reply

  36. DonS says:

    “Jewish Americans like brian and I are for Israel, period”.
    Why should anyone here listen to your opinion as to what is good for the U.S.? Unless you are saying that what (Israel says) is good for Israel is good for the U.S.
    Your forthrightness and closed mind are duly noted.

    Reply

  37. Slo Moe says:

    Jewish Americans like brian and I are for Israel, period, and we got the Chutzpah to inform you properly as to how you must view this situation. You are filth if you are for the terrorists, period, and we will communicate our disgust to you each time you defend your sworn enemy because you hate Bush so much.

    Reply

  38. billy says:

    Jerome Gaskins is exactly correct bingo city. What I wanna see is that Second Coming of Jesus Christ thingy; that should be great fun, but he ain’t gonna come if they don’t really put on a great show with millions upon millions killed; Jesus ain’t showin’ up for any paltry hundreds of thousands; been there done that.
    Are yooooo reddieee toooo ruummmbble !
    Geez, I love this stuff; no special effects this time, baby; the real thing!
    There’s nothin’ like the real thing, baby, there’s nothin’ like the real thing!

    Reply

  39. susan says:

    Billmon has written an interesting post on this subject. Here is how it begins:
    http://www.billmon.org
    Military Hubris
    Machines don’t fight wars. People do, and they use their minds.
    Col John Boyd
    “Steve Clemons at the Washington Note hears through the grapevine that the Israelis are beginning to understand just how much they didn’t know they didn’t know (to paraphrase Don Rumsfeld) about Hamas and Hezbollah:
    One serious analyst I spoke to this morning who stopped by to talk after attending synagogue raised a good point. He said that he thought that Olmert’s insecurity about military management was driving the over-reaction. But he also said that the QUALITY of the attacks against Israel were freaking out the Israeli military and intelligence leaders. Complex incursions that included abductions along with a successful attack on an Israeli gunship show that the enemy is no longer an unimpressive, rag-tag lot. Training and armaments have been improved, and Israel is scrambling to figure out how this happened. (emphasis added)
    In A Bright Shining Lie, Neil Sheehan talked about the difference between the U.S. generals he knew in Vietnam and the ones who fought and won World War II. That earlier generation, he said, had been keenly aware they could lose — after all, just a few years earlier they’d been conducting training exercises with soldiers armed with wooden guns and trucks pretending to be tanks, and here they were taking on the most famously competent military establishment in the world. And because they feared their enemy, and feared failure, they were tough on themselves. Losers — like the general who blundered into a German trap at the Kasserine Pass, were quickly cashiered. Winners were promoted, even if they were eccentric flakes, like George Patton. The Army that fought its way into Germany in 1945 was far from perfect, but the guys at the top never took victory for granted, and rarely underestimated their opponent. When they did, as in Operation Market Garden, their soldiers paid dearly for it…”

    Reply

  40. FaceOnMars says:

    First of, I am uncertain as to what is actually going on behind the scenes. I’m not so sure the Bush Administration’s intentions can be understood purely in terms of logic pertaining to international strategy and tactics. I think it’s necessary to “think out of the box” by entertaining all elements along a broad spectrum of possibilities.
    My suspicion is the Bush Administration is currently allowing Israel’s actions to play out as an agent to “stir the pot” by proxy – serving as a catalyst to create an expanded footprint of instability in the Middle East. Such a situation might provide the U.S. military an “excuse” to expand it’s presence across the greater region without having the need to create a “smoking gun”.
    If this is the case, I believe it’s actually a good indication the administration is no longer as bold in so far as duping the American public with misinformation (WMDs in Iraq).
    I just don’t really know.

    Reply

  41. Gary Sugar says:

    Sorry, I forgot to cite the link. http://www.pollingreport.com/religion2.htm

    Reply

  42. Gary Sugar says:

    Considered globally, centrist American opinion on the Middle East is the far right opinion. Israel fanatics blame that on global anti-semitism and anti-americanism – ‘they hate our freedoms.’
    But I think the difference is more likely caused by American religious sympathy. After all, America is the only country in the world where a majority (64%) believes that “The story about Moses parting the Red Sea so the Jews could escape from Egypt … is literally true, meaning it happened that way word-for-word.”

    Reply

  43. Friendly Fire says:

    point taken Brian.
    meanwhile
    Lebanon’s Cabinet today issued a statement saying the country faced “real annihilation” by Israel.
    It also accused the Jewish state of using banned weapons against Lebanese civilians.
    “We are facing a real annihilation carried out by Israel,” Information Minister Ghazi Aridi said after an emergency cabinet meeting.
    “Israel is using internationally prohibited weapons against civilians,” he said.
    He did not elaborate, but Lebanese media reports, which could not be confirmed, claimed Israel had used phosphorus incendiary bombs and vacuum bombs, which suck up the air and collapse buildings.

    Reply

  44. brian says:

    get a grip, friendly fire, the remarks were WIDELY reported in many international media outlets:
    http://news.google.com/news?q=israel+genghis&hl=en&hs=KmS&lr=&client=firefox-a&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&sa=X&oi=news&ct=title
    i will never understand why americans apologize for our sworn enemies!
    …and for the record, i have NEVER been politically “on the right.” although, i must admit, after the last few days, i am realizing that the “radical left” is just as scary as the ‘far right.” there are nutjobs on both sides of the aisle. all the more reason that the time is right for a third party, centrist candidate in ’08

    Reply

  45. Easy E says:

    Hal must have forgotten about the killings of Palestian civilians on the Gaza beach PRIOR to Israeli soldiers being kidnapped. Selective memory prevails for Israeli-firsters and those on the right.

    Reply

  46. Friendly Fire says:

    Truely great link from the JP Brian.
    Propaganda filtering is not one of your greatest strenghts I see.

    Reply

  47. brian says:

    fresh from the “what an idiot” files; this from todays jerusalem post:
    http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?cid=1150886014306&pagename=JPost%2FJPArticle%2FShowFull
    headline:
    Ahmadinejad: Israel acting like Hitler
    “The Zionists think that they are victims of Hitler, but they act like Hitler and behave worse than Genghis Khan,” Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.”
    wow. i guess that i’m kind of used to the RIDICULOUS hitler/nazi analogies, but genghis khan?!?! hahahaha
    this from a near midget who most likely participated in the abduction of our unarmed embassy personnel in tehran.

    Reply

  48. brian says:

    ditto for sweentjguy29.

    Reply

  49. brian says:

    finally some reason. thank you, hal.

    Reply

  50. trey says:

    I agree with Hal, posted above…

    Reply

  51. Hal says:

    Steve’s thesis is too clever to be convincing. Let’s try and apply Occam’s Razor here. Israel withdrew from Gaza, and soon thereafter Kassam rockets get fired into Israel proper. Hamas either can’t or won’t stop them.
    What state would tolerate this for long?
    Then, Hamas tunnels from Gaza into Israel, kills some Israeli soldiers and kidnaps one. That’s an invasion, isn’t it?
    What state would tolerate this?
    Then, not to be outdone, Hezbollah attacks an Israeli patrol on the Israeli side of the border, taking more hostages.
    What state would tolerate this?
    I think that we have a proxy war in the north, between Israel and Iran, with Hezbollah as a very effective Iranian cat’s paw. Something made Hezbollah or perhaps Iran decide to break the tacit rules of engagement along Israel’s northern border. I suspect it’s that Iran is feeling its oats these days and wanted to try something new against the “Little Satan.” After all, Iran’s influence in Iraq is growing, its nuclear effort continues, and it seems to have won new respect in the Sunni Arab world.
    Before embracing a big, complex theory of how Israel is trying to pull Washington’s strings, we ought to ask how any state would react to the incursions, kidnappings, 13,000 rockets and missiles in southern Lebanon, Iranian technicians among the missiles, etc.
    And what is this putative American agreement with the broader Arab Middle East? What is that, anyway? Is there a unified Arab Middle East to strike a deal with? Not really.
    I don’t think that Israel can remake internal Lebanese politics, and I hope that talk is just rhetoric. But Israel does need to cut down Hezbollah’s ability to threaten it and, if possible, to drive the Iranians back from its northern border.
    Why must it be more complicated than that?

    Reply

  52. else says:

    Hezbollah’s getting quite good at pinpointing in Haifa: Railway Depot down; threat to touch the oil refinery nearby. Some 700 rockets through the night…
    Israel has apparently sent word through the Italian govt (!) to Lebanon that hostilities will cease if their soldiers are returned.
    Is this capitulation.
    Gideon Levy in Ha’aretz today is an interesting read:
    “Israel once again is not distinguishing between a justified war against Hezbollah and an unjust and unwise war against the Lebanese nation. The camouflage concealing the war’s real goals was ripped off by this defense minister, who says what he means: “Nasrallah is going to get it so bad that he will never forget the name Amir Peretz,” he bragged, like a typical bully. Now at least we know that Israel went to war so that the name Amir Peretz is never forgotten. It’s the war for the perpetuation of the name Peretz and the blurring of Dan Halutz’s failures. And to hell with the cost.”

    Reply

  53. sweentjguy29 says:

    “Why is Israel pounding most of Lebanon rather than just the South and rather than pinpointing its attack against Hezbollah assets?”
    There is a pervasive myth that advanced modern militaries, such as Israel and the U.S. are capable of using pinpoint strikes and special forces tactics to decapitate enemies with the blink of an eye. There is also a myth that using more force than a GPS guided bomb is overkill and somehow against the laws of war.
    The fact of the matter is that precision weapons and tactics aren’t always effective against guerilla tactics, such as fast mobile teams in light civilian-disguised trucks armed with rocket launchers. (Perhaps that mini-van matched the description of a ketusha rocket van that was in the vicinity…which is probably the unfortunate and sad reason why those innocent people were killed). In addition to immobilizing the actual combat threat, you also take out its command and control structure. In this case, it is Lebanese infrastructure and state sponsored propaganda machines. Both are legit military targets.
    When analysing political events, it is helpful to use the scientific principle of Occam’s Razor. The simplest explanation is probably true. You ask, “Why not an assassination” and “Why the dramatic bombing of explosive fuel centers?” and posit that this is a power play made by weak leftists with no military experience.
    Bullshit, there is an easier, simpler, and true explanation: Israel is using conventional overwhelming military power to take out a serious military threat because it knows that there will not be any serious military resistance from Lebanon or her neighbors. PoliSci 101.

    Reply

  54. asdf says:

    Holy sh$%, its amazing what you can find when looking up the links for a post. Here is Ledeen calling for the immediate official US backing of an attempt to overthrow Assad. http://corner.nationalreview.com/post/?q=NGM2OGYxMTY4NjIwNWRmYjFhY2IxMjBlZTdhZDU2Njk
    > Why is Israel pounding most of Lebanon rather
    > than just the South and rather than pinpointing
    > its attack against Hezbollah assets? Why the
    > dramatic bombing of explosive fuel centers? The
    > attacks both in Gaza and in Beirut seem made for
    > Fox News, CNN and the next Schwarzenegger movie.
    Amen, the video of a warship shooting the Lebanese coasts was filmed from another Israeli warship…Why? Is the IDF known for its “Starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, Pvt. Jessica Lynch” style of embedded reporting?
    One thing though, if you look at the bombing of a wheat silo, roads and constant sonic booms over gaza during night you have to ask whether part of the goal is to get a message to Gaza and Lebanese voters, specifically Hamas and Hebollah voters. A hole in the road and a sleepless night are not gonna stop a suicide bomber….
    But if the US warmongers can speculate about a Syrian/Iranian green light for the kidnapping, can we speculate about a Cheney camp greenlight for Israel? I can’t think of a group that would like the wings of Rice clipped as much as some of these people> do.
    http://corner.nationalreview.com/post/?q=MTYzNGM3YjY3ZDk4NWUwYWI5YTJmNDM1MDMzMzExNjc=
    (Plus they are already close to Israel and don’t see the inherent problems of bombing “terrorists”) This might explain not just the “back off” language, but also the rumors of such language. Stunts like that suggest some serious backing.
    Remember how discussion about US respect for Iranian “territorial integrity” (Lynne Cheney) was taken out of the US proposal for talks at the last minute. That could have been plain sabotage because it was the first thing Iran had demanded earlier. I am beginning to think these guys are not above a little sabotage. (Bolton is known for it)
    And reading the 2003 Iran letter again its interesting that Iran mentions Hamas, “jihad” (IJ?) Hezbollah, Lebanon. They would apparently love to have had a chat with the US over this stuff….
    On the other hand is the fact that Lebanon was the only “democratization” efforts that is even remotely near the track. (Ukraine,Georgia, Kyrgyzstan, Iraq let along the whole middle east) Right now bush has to hold up Iraq as an example of a new democracy to putin…
    http://thinkprogress.org/2006/07/15/putin-jab/
    (don’t you just want to send a taxi around to the G8 to fetch him and bring him home so he can clear some brush? Its like a kid building a sandcastle on the beach with an incoming tide. You just want to lure it away from a huge disapointment with icecream…. And “just you wait” seems about to describe his Iraq strategy)
    > But that doesn’t explain it all. The Israeli
    > response to the Hezbollah incursion is exactly
    > what Hezbollah wanted. Adversaries rarely give
    > each other the behaviors the other actually
    > desires unless there are other objectives
    > involved.
    Wouldn’t Hezbollah prefer ground troops, preferably the kind that doesn’t pay attention when patrolling? I must say I was amazed to hear they took out an armored vehicle and a ship, but they can’t do to much about the planes can they? Anyway, I guess you fight the army you get not the army you might want to fight.

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  55. Sydney says:

    ABC’s true news reporting on 7 o’clock Sunday. They cut the Lebanese Prime Ministers speech in half so they would not show he’s tears in asking the international community for help in stopping Israel’s bombardment on Lebanon.

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  56. else says:

    Writing in WaPo this morning, Robin Wright lends credence to the US/Israel *Coordinated* Policy thesis:
    “Israel, with U.S. support, intends to resist calls for a cease-fire and continue a longer-term strategy of punishing Hezbollah, which is likely to include several weeks of precision bombing in Lebanon, according to senior Israeli and U.S. officials.
    For Israel, the goal is to eliminate Hezbollah as a security threat — or altogether, the sources said. A senior Israeli official confirmed that Hezbollah leader Hasan Nasrallah is a target, on the calculation that the Shiite movement would be far less dynamic without him.
    For the United States, the broader goal is to strangle the axis of Hezbollah, Hamas, Syria and Iran, which the Bush administration believes is pooling resources to change the strategic playing field in the Middle East, U.S. officials say.”

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  57. Jerome Gaskins says:

    I’m sure that these are precursors to the Armageddon. Israel has its allies, and the other countries have theirs. Climbing the separate ladders brings us to the US v. China & Russia, with mercenary actions from Central/South America. Even if there’s a major “terrorist” attack, larger than WTC, the only sympathy we’ll engender will come from the UK and MAYBE Canada. Australia and the other minor militaries will be so far away as to be non-existent.
    Combine this with a US civil war pitting Conservatives against Liberals and you can forget about our precious Constitution…

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  58. john fletcher says:

    The other unmentioned elephant in the room is Iraq. What are Iraqis – both Shi-ite and Sunni – reactions going to be to this?
    According to Juan Cole, the Friday sermons were thunderous. Israel’s actions could have the same effect as the simultaneous Shia/Sunni Najaf/Fallujah uprisings of ’04 – sudden and unexpected solidarity between the sects. SCIRI and Dawa – Iranian parties – having to keep up with Sadr, who based his movement on Hezbollah – and the Sunnis backing Hamas.
    Money, supplies, volunteers?
    And if that is happening, the politicians in the Green Zone wouldn’t be far behind. A chance for national unity for a society on the brink of civil war. Malki’s already been flexing his muscles against the US. How about a full-blooded declaration of Islamic support? Where would that leave George?

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  59. btree says:

    What you see is nearly six years of non-action, of an undeclared “war on diplomacy” bearing fruit.
    It is not Israel that is removing America’s options in the Middle East; America crippled itself with every single step it took, every decision made by the Bush administration after 9/11.
    The guerilla wing of Hamas might have been motivated by the prospect of Ismail Haniyeh getting very close to a deal with Abu Mazen over the ‘Prisoner’s Document’.
    According to Mark Perry, Hezbollah caught the IDF with its pants down – again! – few days later, and just wouldn’t let this chance pass them by.
    http://tinyurl.com/hzyq7
    Israel, without a strong bond of personal trust between the political and military leadership, is simply out of control. Uri Avneri suggests that the massive aerial bombardment strategy over both Gaza and Lebanon bears the signature of Dan Halutz, whose plans Peretz seems to be implementing without objections.
    http://zope.gush-shalom.org/home/en/channels/avnery/

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  60. Zathras says:

    I must say I read what these “smarter-than-average” analysts write academically and for newspapers and magazines, and see them on interviewed on television, and they don’t look like anything out of the way to me.
    Regardless of the credentials of all the analysts suggesting deep strategic thinking — by the administration, by Israel, by Iran — this view needs to be regarded with great skepticism. In Israel’s case, the second explanation Steve mentions is too obviously related to what most Israelis would be likely to feel for deep designs aimed at reducing American flexibility to be more than an afterthought.
    One amendment to that second explanation, though; successful kidnapping operations launched in succession by Hamas and Hezbollah do not just suggest better Arab training and weaponry, but also — and probably more important — substantial complacency among Israeli military commanders. I don’t see how Israelis could see failure to prevent abductions of their soldiers from their own soil as anything but a major screw-up on the part of the generals who are now directing operations in Lebanon. Is anything besides a major military response from Israel likely under these circumstances? I don’t think it’s the whole explanation, but probably not.

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  61. RichF says:

    HOW did Israel’s opponents develop shockingly high-QUALITY military capability?
    Practice.
    They had plenty of opportunity to match wits, resources and military options against Israel.
    It’s just another reason why applied military might can never secure Israel — and in the long run, do just the opposite.

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  62. albertchampion says:

    how do we know that there are no terrorists?
    because tel-aviv hasn’t become irradiated.

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  63. JJ says:

    Looks like Am. NeoNuts, in league w/their Israeli counterparts, moving to pre-empt/outflank realists in foreign policy & military establishments (Am. at least) to pave way for war on Iran.

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  64. vachon says:

    Afghanistan is producing lots of drugs again and the middle east suddenly goes hot. Funny that.

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  65. MarcLord says:

    Israel is paranoid about its neighbors much the way South Africans were paranoid about the end of apartheid. Contemplation of Iraq in situ has made them go desperately crazy. Militarily, Israel will be in an untenable position in a few years. Iran has already won two-thirds of Iraq, Turkey will win the other third, and Syria will team with both. As icing on the cake, add a Euro-enriched, nuke-wielding Iran and a bankrupt US. Casa finito, Israel. Anyway, that’s the thinking. The rest of the world disagrees, and Israel is encouraging a self-fullfilling prophecy.

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  66. karenk says:

    I’ll say it again: Americans need to put AMERICAN interests first, regardless of what is in Israel’s best interest. They put themselves first and don’t worry about the consequences to us.
    Great Steve that you keep this point in focus. US interests and Israel’s interests are NOT always the same. We need to make this distinction and stop being the “lapdog”.

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  67. Daniel DiRito says:

    To read an analysis on the Middle East that posits that the solution to the regions turmoil rests in the immediate creation of an independent Palestinian state…here:
    http://www.thoughttheater.com/2006/07/palestinian_state_if_we_build.php

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  68. formerDoDlogmgr says:

    Despite what you might think, the US industrial base is not in shape to support an additional war.
    (witness the shortage of ammunition that occurred or stock out of cruise missiles during the post-911 Afganistan strikes) The defense manufacturers have been shrinking and consolidating for years and this includes selling off and disassembling tooling needed to support many of the 20+ year old systems on which the US military depends. Some of those weapon systems are also in the Israeli arsenal and are supported under cooperative logistics with the services. This means our military is competing with Israel for scarce repair and maintenance parts. That might not have been a problem when America was at peace, but with the high attrition of military equipment in Iraq, it’s very relevent now. We are going to supply our own needs first. Given the build up of damaged military equipment, it is going to be a long wait for ourselves, let along foreign customers, awaiting parts.
    In addition, the services have awarded new production, spare and repair parts contracts to Israeli companies, often with disappointing results. This tells me Israel doesn’t have a true
    independent ability to support its equipment.
    I’m sure our military commanders understand this
    means a second front war is very, very problematic.

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  69. CaseyL says:

    I think you’re on the right track, but for the wrong underlying premise.
    I think Israel is making its own decisions about its own security, regardless of what the Bush Administration might want or do, because (as I’ve said before) Israel may well have concluded that the Bush Administration’s incompetence is a liability.
    The FUBAR in Iraq is deeply dangerous to Israel: it replaced a contained and controlled enemy with chaos that radicalized already-obdurate Islamic governments. The best-guess scenario for an ultimate outcome in Iraq is nothing like the “democratic, West-leaning, friendly to Israel” Bush promised; now its a fragmented country, dominated by Shi’a and aligned with Iran.
    Now Bush is pushing for confrontation with Iran – and Israel has to consider the certainty that Bush will screw up in Iran even worse than he screwed up in Iraq. If Bush were allowed to work the same “magic” in Iran that he did in Iraq, the result would be a huge borderless non-state of free-roaming militias fighting along ethnic/sectarian lines, vengeance-seeking insurgencies, and terrorist groups with access to Iran’s weapons stores.
    I truly believe that Israel has decided the Bush Administration is a deeply dangerous liability. I truly believe Israel has decided to do what it thinks best for its own national security, regardless of US input or wishes, because it can’t trust Bush Administration competence – or even sanity, at this point.
    And that could very well mean precipitating a wider conflict on Israel’s terms – i.e., while conditions still exist favoring Israel’s military superiority.

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  70. DonS says:

    The Iran connection — 100 Repulican guards according to the Israeli press release. On backgound of course. Too sensitive to be sourced. But damned if it hasn’t been picked up by the world press and, no doubt, soon will be gospel. Follow the chain and, poof . . .

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  71. Dan Kervick says:

    Don S:
    I think you are right. Israel and US statements appear to be coordinated and on message: Hizbollah <— Syria <— Iran. The US leadership is remakably calm for a group that – as Steve hypothesizes – is being dragged somewhere it doesn’t want to go.
    glynt:
    I don’t think any major terrorist event is necessary. It is just a matter of accentuating and exaggerating existing connections, during a ramping up period of rhetorical and military escalation.
    The Israelis have begun accusing Iran of participating in the missile attack on its ship, and manufacturing the Katyusha rockets used in the attacks on northern towns and cities, and have issued various ultimatums to Syria dn Iran. The US will begin hammering the connections between Syria and Iran and various assaults in Iraq against US forces. Every time a soldier dies in Iraq, which happens at a predictable pace, we can expect to hear about alleged Syrian connections or Iranian connections to these attacks. These statements have been made before, but the volume will be turned way up to create a sense of crisis and something new. They should be effective in ratcheting up the level of public outrage.
    Israel will attempt to draw Iran in by assaulting Syria. Once Iran does something in response, a US military response won’t be far behind.
    We may also have a news story about how recent intelligence reveals Iran is “much closer than previously believed” to possessing a nuclear weapon. And then perhaps a “Bin Laden” letter or tape expressing solidarity with Iran and thanking them for their cooperation in the global jihad against America, and for supporting their Muslim brothers in Iraq. Democratic hawks, Republican hawks and the media will all fall in line behind the war push.

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  72. Carroll says:

    I think this thesis is very possible.
    Karen Kwiatkowski,formerly of the pentagon and the first to write about Doug Feith’s OSP, has an article out that suggest that this action is Israel’s Clean Break “from” the US.
    She suggest that the revolt among the Marine commanders and some imput from the Bush Sr. old guard over attacking Iran did lead to forcing the adm to accept a semi-state of stand down towards Iran. That we would maintain bases in Iraq but not go any further. And Israel couldn’t let this stand and is acting on their own to bring things to a head and undercut Bush supposed new policy of cutting back on agression in the ME.
    She said something else too about the fact that the US not having a defense pact or treaty with Israel would present a constitutional problem if he tried as he promised to enter a war for Israel defense.
    Has anyone seen much mention of who is this adm knew Israel was going to do this?…and I say going to do because all the daily dots do point to the fact that Israel was laying ground and reasons for this for a while before the kidnap.

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  73. else says:

    “Hizbollah’s main claim to whatever support it enjoys outside its own Shiite community is its success in forcing Israel to withdraw from the last Israeli-Lebanese war.”
    That isn’t quite the way my Lebanese friends tell it. A tremendous amount of support derives from Hezbollah’s welfare activities among the needy. For this reason, among the general population, it has been unthinkable to turn against them.
    But the purported groundbreaking incursion by the US in the region has entirely altered the perspective of even the educated classes. As it was related to me, there has been a sudden realization on the part of even the most secular Muslims that: 1) Lebanon has never had a government that represented them; 2) if the world was to be divided between Western liberal democracies and “Islam,” well, then, they had an identity, by virtue of their language, by virtue of an ancestral religion(here I leave aside the Christians and even some Jews). And, thus, if push came to shove, and the Johnny Walker in the evening after a long day of commerce notwithstanding, they would turn to Nasrallah for representation.
    Must say my jaw dropped when I heard this; but hear it, I did.

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  74. DonS says:

    So,yes, possibly Israel finesseing and pre-emptping U.S. policy options.
    Or possibly, some degree of collaboration in the Kabuki, with the emerging scenario — and if it goes all the way to Syria and/or Iran (with o/r without direct U.S. participation) — reprising the Bush admin preemptive war idea, to which Bush can second the action or pour more fuel on the fire. Scare the (voting) populace shitless seems to have galvanized votes and “popularity” ratings as I recall. Look for a Bush bounce in the next week as a bellweather.
    Let’s look at the quote (from CNN) that the handlers gave Bush to mouth:
    “President Bush called on Syria Saturday to exert its influence on Hezbollah militants so they will ‘lay down their arms.’ . . .”
    “The best way to stop violence is to understand why the violence occurred in the first place,” Bush said during a news conference ahead of the Group of Eight summit in St. Petersburg, Russia.
    “And that is because Hezbollah has been launching rocket attacks out of Lebanon and into Israel because Hezbollah captured two Israeli soldiers.”
    Now this isn’t even vaguely apposite to the way the situation has exploded. It is virtually irrelevant to a serious proposal — as if there would be a wholesale backdown on either side at this time — which might be considered constructive. It totally ignores proportionality.
    But it does lay the groundwork for further implicating Syria.
    Most interesting and, to me, telling, Bush does not seem to express the degree of concern out of a world leader that one might expect from this massive conflagration.
    Why?

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  75. John says:

    I really appreciate Steve’s analysis. If Isreal wants to clip the United States wings in the area, they may have succeeded. In fact, events of the week may you wonder if the Eagle can fly at all: North Korea, Iran, Iraq. Where exactly is the U.S. moving events in a direction favorable to our national interest?
    Adversaries rarely give each other the behaviors the other actually desires… The U.S. is extremely vulnerable to subtle and damaging retaliation for Israel’s outrageous over-reaction. No Arab oil boycott necessary, just a few oil installations that get closed for maintenance, and oil goes to $100. Some subtle shifting of account to Euros, and the run on the dollar begins. It makes you wonder when Bush & Co. will wake up and realize that unconditional support for Israel is simply not in the national interest.

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  76. btree says:

    What you see is nearly six years of non-action, of an undeclared “war on diplomacy” bearing fruit.
    It is not Israel that is removing America’s options in the Middle East; America crippled itself with every single step it took, every decision made by the Bush administration after 9/11.
    The guerilla wing of Hamas might have been motivated by the prospect of Ismail Haniyeh getting very close to a deal with Abu Mazen over the ‘Prisoner’s Document’.
    According to Mark Perry, Hezbollah caught the IDF with its pants down – again! – few days later, and just wouldn’t let this chance pass them by.
    http://tinyurl.com/hzyq7
    Israel, without a strong bond of personal trust between the political and military leadership, is simply out of control. Uri Avneri suggests that the massive aerial bombardment strategy over both Gaza and Lebanon bears the signature of Dan Halutz, whose plans Peretz seems to be implementing without objections.
    http://zope.gush-shalom.org/home/en/channels/avnery/

    Reply

  77. glynt says:

    After reading Kervick, I smell a big “terrorist” attack against us to mobilize the nation into war frenzy that would be a prerequisite in the present political climate to declare war against Syria and/or Iran. A draft would be necessary. Who in America will be sacrificed for the promotion of this war? Probably a southern red state area with evangelical fervor ready to march. Texas?, their own this time around?

    Reply

  78. nuggets says:

    What is happening is called The Global War On Terror, plain and simple. The USA is either with Israel or with the Terrorists. You can’t beat the people of the Chutzpah in guile. Bush and the Americans are way out of their league. Who put that GWOT idea in Bush’s brain, ummm? The tail wags the dog. Same as it ever was. Checkmate, again. Bwahaha.

    Reply

  79. else says:

    Yes, walter, you do remember correctly…
    1. The hypothesis that Steve is advancing seems very plausible. By extension, see how Bill Kristol, John Podhoretz, Michael Ledeen, et. al. are seconding, so to speak, this particular US policy dimension. For Kristol, this is “our war.”
    2. For the great sage of the Israeli peace movement, Uri Avnery — who certainly did not see the Lebanese conflagration coming in his piece on Gaza last week — the objective would be to install a puppet regime in Beirut. In other words, Olmert is retracing Sharon’s path in 1982, athough, according to Avnery, Olmert can pretend to flex his muscles, but the real power has been vested in the military, with the extraordinarily authoritarian and really quite arabophobic Dan (“it must be seared into their minds…”) Halutz calling the shots.
    3. Indeed, this handing over of policy to the military makes sense in view of the *quality* of the attacks, which Steve’s analyst offers as a counter-argument, although it isn’t really. On the *quality* of the attacks, *billmon* has written an excellent blog entry.

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  80. Dan Kervick says:

    Steve, I believe it is more likely that this latest Israeli step has been taken with full US knowledge and complicity, and that the President’s public statements over the past couple of days provide ample evidence of that fact. Do you have any sense at all that the people in the administration are running around with their hair on fire attempting to suppress and contain this new war, because they are worried about how it interferes with their other plans? I sure don’t.
    There are two hypotheses to entertain here regarding Israeli intentions, on both of which you touch.
    The first takes some of today’s Israeli statements at face value. This is an operation that has been planned for five years. Its aim is to (i) separate Hizbollah from the Lebanese government and population, by holding all of Lebanon collectively responsible for Hizbollah’s actions, (ii) cut off Lebanon, and particularly Hizbollah from the possibility of resupply and re-arming by destroying ports, bridges and infrastructure and (iii) by these steps bring Hizbollah to its knees and force its disarmament, or destroy it utterly.
    Israel claims that Hizbollah is a terrorist organization. Critics counter that Hizbollah is a legitimate political party in Lebanon that participates in the democratic Lebanese political process and Lebanese government. “Fine,” says Israel, “then all of Lebanon is responsible for Hizbollah strikes against Israel.”
    If this is the sole Israeli intention, it clearly has US support. The President today explicitly endorsed the announced Israeli war aim of forcing Hiszbollah to disarm. He did not ask for restraint or a cease fire or cooling off, but simply asked Israel to be careful about civilian casualties.
    However, taking these aims at face value, this seems a bad strategy. Hizbollah’s main claim to whatever support it enjoys outside its own Shiite community is its success in forcing Israel to withdraw from the last Israeli-Lebanese war. Invading Lebanon only seems to reinfoce Hizbollah’s claim to a reason for existence. Also, Israel will not be able to cut Hizbollah off entirely, and others will intervene on its behalf in various ways. It is unlikely to defeat Hizbollah through this operation – just as they were unable to defeat them before.
    So I think we should entertain a hypothesis that is more depressing to contemplate, but assumes Israel knows exactly what it is doing, and is working with the US on a broader aim:
    The US and Israel seek to provoke Syrian and Iranian intervention in the Israel-Hizbollah conflict, to provide a causus belli for expanding the Middle East war from Iraq to at least those two countries. Israel is helping Bush with his political problems, and his Iran problem, and is executing the first stages of a coordinated political-military strategy that will lead ultmately to major US military operations against Iran and Syria, a rather large-scale war in the region, and a geopolitical realignment and settling of scores that will be in the end to the advantage Israel and the US – or so they hope – after much loss of life of course.
    There is no reason to suspect that this is all an attempt to drag the US into a war it doesn’t want. If that were the case, we would be able to detect that fact from the statements and diplomatic maneuverings of the administration. But we see nothing of the sort. Instead, the administration has gone out of its way to link the conflict between Israel and Hizbollah to Syria and Iran, and to escalate diplomatic tensions rather than defuse them.
    I believe Dick Cheney is still in charge of this administration’s foreign policy – not Rice. So to understand what is going on, you need to think like a Cheneyite or neoconservative hawk, and look at events from a broad geostrategic perspective that reflects their values and priorities. From their point of view, the US has a rapidly closing window of opportunity to consummate the war whose opening battles were Afghanistan and Iraq, a war that (they hope) is going to remake the Middle East to the advantage of Israel and the US – and a war which they think is in some sense unavoidable, and so is better fought sooner rather than later. Iran’s power is growing; China’s power is growing; Russia’s power is growing and Europe’s political culture is changing. Before long the balance of power will have shifted so as to drastically curtail US options, and place Israel on the wrong side of unstoppable regional trends. It’s now or never for the hawks.
    The administration has decided to go for it, and throw the Hail Mary pass now. Israel in Lebanon is the first back out of the backfield. That this is an election year gives them all the more reason to strike.

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  81. GQ says:

    Thanks for the updates. It seems that the pundits (Kristol, Ledeen, etc.) are hell bent on a wider war. It’s nice to know what the grown-ups are discussing instead of the children and their fantasy scenarios.

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  82. walter says:

    Am I crazy or do I remember correctly that a few days before the Hamas kidnappings that they (at least the governing wing) had agreed to recognize Israel?
    Obviously now that is out of the question

    Reply

  83. susan says:

    Steve;
    I agree with your analysis, mostly. I have thought since the start of this operation that Olmert abdicated the decision making to the military commanders. Whether that was out of inexperience, need to “prove his mettle” or sheer rage and frustration remains still to be seen.
    that being said, a couple of points:
    Israel is not “defending itself” when it attacks nonmilitary targets and slaughters civilians. When Palestinians do that, Israel calls them “terrorists.” The captured Israelis are soldiers, not civilians. Hizbullah is based in southern Lebanon, why is it that Israel is targeting civilian sites well into the north of the country?
    I think that this operation has been planned for quite some time, not unlike the current one in Gaza. Israel undertook rapid-fire and systematic steps to cripple the Lebanese economy, taking out the international (civilian) airport and imposing a naval blockade. This suggests to me that they have plans to extend the operation into Syria, and even to try to draw Iran into it if necessary.
    Assassination of officials of an elected or sovereign government by another state is against all norms of conduct for modern democracies. Why is the world giving Israel a pass on this?
    For all the economic and military largesse that the US gives to Israel, I don’t think that most Americans realize that Israel is NOT our “friend.” The old strategic alliance holding back Soviet control of the Suez outlived its usefulness for the US a long time ago. Israel has not acted in the interests of the US either within the region or globally, for a very long time. But AIPAC is extremely powerful and holds the strings to many lawmakers. The client state is calling the shots.

    Reply

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