And now for a quick commercial break

On LBC, every night and especially during the news broadcast there is a very interesting ad that inevitably attracts our senses. It’s the first commercial break and reporters have just finished talking about the most awful stuff happening during the day in Lebanon (destruction of infrastructure, killing of civilians, economic disaster etc.) when the nice music of a Schubert sonate (if I’m not mistaken) captivates the mind of the consumer who sees young kids drawing during class time as (cute) teacher watches over them with tenderness. One kid shows the drawing of a sun while the cellist strikes his strings, then another cuts a rectangle inside the piece of paper, stands up and sticks it on the window from which you can see the sun appearing with the trees outside the window, inside the rectangular space. Then the slogan (in Arabic and not very well translated sorry can’t find the expression in English): “As cloudy as the sky can get the sun of Lebanon will shine again”, Bank Audi…

I still don’t know if this can be called war profiteering.

Remarks from Nasrallah’s latest speech

Hezbollah’s SG Hassan Nasrallah confirmed yesterday in a TV speech that some Lebanese factions are giving information to the Israeli forces. He did not mention names, unlike we in this blog who pointed out that 20 Lebanese Forces (LF) members were arrested a couple of days ago with a whole set of material resembling those found with MOSSAD agent arrested a month or so ago (do you remember this story my friends?). What we wrote at the time seems interesting in this regard.

In any case, this seems to explain why Israelis were sometimes shooting where they thought Hezbollah fighters would be found although it turned out there aren’t any (like today’s massacre in Qana, but also so many others before). As pointed out before, all the locations hit by the Israeli army by plane were emptied by Hezbollah but also by most civilians that Hezbollah advised to leave.

Just for you to know, they are still arresting LF members. And I’m sure there may be other parties involved – not specifically linked to a Lebanese political party – that are giving information to Israeli war planes. As a matter of fact, I don’t think the MOSSAD cell that was found sometime ago in Lebanon is the only one. There are many others, but it seems that no one could infiltrate Hezbollah’s group, and this is kind of impressive to say the least.

Pizza IDF

Who said that the IDF has no gratitude or feelings for that matter…
(Thanks Jassem)

Revisiting the US/Israel synergy: Israel obeys to US in this case

This is exactly what is at stake: Israel is playing by American rules. The US thought for the past two years that it could do away with Hezbollah’s arms with the sole help of the newly “elected” 14 of March government. When the latter failed – as they also failed in so many other issues – the US went on to plan B, which is to use the Israeli army in order to do so by force. Plan B was supposed to enter into effect in September at the latest according to reliable soures. Hezbollah knew about it and was preparing for the invasion as press reports showed during the last couple of days. Most of the Southern Suburbs were emptied from Hezbollah’s sensitive material and also from most of its population. Likewise for the south, or else you would have had much more killing incured by the Israelis.

The US is still putting into effect the neoconservative plan to restructure the Middle East. As a good background, an exhaustive article was found by a friend of mine (merci stefane), of which i would stress the following (sorry no time to translate):

Les opérations militaires de Tsahal sont supervisées par le département états-unien de la Défense. Celui-ci détermine l’essentiel de la stratégie et le choix des cibles. Le rôle principal est imparti au général Bantz Craddock par ailleurs commandant du South Command. Craddock est un spécialiste des mouvements de blindés, comme il l’a montré durant Tempête du désert et surtout lorsqu’il a commandé les forces terrestres de l’OTAN au Kosovo. C’est un homme de confiance de Donald Rumsfeld, dont il a dirigé l’état-major particulier et pour le compte duquel il a développé le camp de Guantanamo. En novembre prochain, il devrait être nommé commandant de l’European Command et de l’OTAN. À ce titre, il pourrait diriger la force d’interposition que l’OTAN pourrait déployer au Sud-Liban en plus de celles qu’elle a déjà installées en Afghanistan et au Soudan.

Now Israel is in trouble, thinking that it could deal with Lebanon as it dealt with Gaza. Watch how Israeli officials are starting to worry as the US is still not calling for a cease fire (see the reports after the Rome summit). Funny, that Israel needs the US to call for a cease fire. What I presumed happened is that some elements in the Israeli army assured the US that they could take out Hezbollah in a couple of days. Of course this did not happen and the screams of other eminent Israel top ranking army officials calling for restraint got muted.

In any case, the US is still desperate to find a solution that could weaken Hezbollah as much as possible, and so is giving Israel a chance to show its usefulness as a strategic ally. Though the Red light is: don’t go regional folks, we’re still not ready yet. But anything can happen as of now. I think there is a double political track being played. the official one: diplomacy and talks about international force and finding solutions for the Leb/Israeli issue, the unofficial one seems to say: IDF continue striking, maybe amidst the destruction created (because we can’t take them by land), we may weaken them “un tant soit peu”, and thus change the rules of the official track.

Hizbullah and civilians …

Here is a good piece on how Hizbullah operates militarily in Lebanon … While my knowledge of this subject is highly limited, the article confirms what I had always suspected from my very superficial understanding of the issue and travels in southern Lebanon and serves as a strong counter-weight to recent Israeli efforts to blame civilians deaths on Hizbullah’s guerilla tactics:

So the analysts talking on cable news about Hezbollah “hiding within the civilian population” clearly have spent little time if any in the south Lebanon war zone and don’t know what they’re talking about. Hezbollah doesn’t trust the civilian population and has worked very hard to evacuate as much of it as possible from the battlefield. And this is why they fight so well — with no one to spy on them, they have lots of chances to take the Israel Defense Forces by surprise, as they have by continuing to fire rockets and punish every Israeli ground incursion.

And the civilians? They see themselves as targeted regardless of their affiliation. They are enraged at Israel and at the United States, the only two countries on earth not calling for an immediate cease-fire. Lebanese of all persuasions think the United States and Israel believe that Lebanese lives are cheaper than Israeli ones. And many are now saying that they want to fight.

Greasing the War Machine …

Just what we need in the Middle East: more weapons …

Most Disgusting Thing I Have Read …

This, courtesy of the Doctor Charles Krauthammer of the Washington Post op-ed pages:

Israeli soldiers die so that Lebanese civilians will not…

Fear and Loathing…

I have been somewhat concerned in the last few days that perhaps my analysis of the situation in Lebanon has been colored by an excess of fear and over-concern that this all ends with a civil war in Lebanon … Mostly, this fear stems from having to watch and consume the US media, which can make one think we are on the brink of the apocalypse with the infidel Mulsims once again at the gates of Vienna … Also contributing to this fear is a sense that I missed the boat in the lead up to the US invasion of Iraq … Of course, I was in Lebanon during 9/11 and the first months of the second (third?) US war against Iraq so I was not exposed to exactly how the US political class and media respond to such things … Sitting in a Beirut newsroom, I did not anticipate the Iraq War and indeed thought it too ridiculous to come to fruition, and thus also contributing to my fear is this sense that I was wrong before …

I am concerned about how this excess of fear has made me somewhat insensitive to the barbarism and tragedy that has already been visited upon Lebanon in the last few weeks. I have considered the violence to be horrible, but a mere trifle of what future days might bring …

However, listening to Bush and Blair today at the White House and getting a few news stories from southern Lebanon have confirmed some of my darker fears about how this will all shake out … And I am now firm in my belief that this will not end well … This realization pains me because I have considerable affection for Lebanon — warts and all — and even more affection for some of its residents — warts and all …

It seems clear that the US plan for Lebanon is to push the GOL toward the brink of civil war … Comparisons to 1982-3 are becoming more and more apt as Bush has called for a mulinational force to help the GOL assert its authority over Lebanese territory (sound familiar?). Perhaps the military, financial and political might of the United States could make such a thing happen, but it is already off to a horrible start by allowing the IDF to terrorize southern Lebanon and thus increase support for Hizbullah and radicalize those who already support the group … This did not work in the early 1980s and it will not work now … Yes the Soviet Union is gone and Syria is weaker than at any point in its history, but this war on Lebanon is pushing Lebanese shia, among others, even further into the embrace of Hizbullah … Moreover, I have my doubts about the legitimacy of the current GOL (created this time, not by Israeli tanks and American suitcases filled with dollar bills, but Saudi money and American political pressure) and whether or not it could stand another election … As with Lebanon then and now and as with Iraq now, the Americans and the Israelis are pursuing a policy that does not fully consider the realities of the country they are talking about (my favorite is when the pro-Israel chicken hawks in Washington talk about “expelling” Hizbullah from Lebanon) …

All of this does not bode well for the future as the US and Israel are likely to push very hard on the GOL to pressure Hizbullah into accepting a mulitnational force … I fear that the US will push so hard that the government will collapse and civil unrest will follow … They can do this because ruining another country comes at no political cost back home … Already, the US adventure in Iraq has cost the United States over 300 billion dollars and 3,000 dead Americans (I will not mention the hundreds of thousands of dead Iraqis because they do not exist in the world of domestic American political debate) … Yet, the Republicans are out campaigning across America on the great success Iraq has been in the war on terror … And Democrats are divided as ever and would rather not mention the word Iraq lest their divisions weaken the party (see Leiberman in Connecticut) …

So where to find hope?

1) I place my hope in Israel in that I hope it will recognize that its current adventure is a disaster with little to no strategic advantage in the offing … The United States can tolerate a failed state and civil war in Iraq, but Israel hopefully will realize that it cannot or if it can, will realize that it is not in their short or long term interest to have one on its northern border … Yes the Israelis seem comfortable with the violent ghettos that are the occupied territories, but I think it will be difficult politically in Israel to justify an occupation of Lebanon, even as things get worse …

2) I also place my hope with Nasrallah that he will be able to play the coming political game with as much skill, grace and patience as will be required… Indeed, I am certain that avoiding civil war will be more difficult than resisting the Israeli military onslaught …

I hope my hope is not misplaced … But I now fear the worst and we are at very dangerous moment with Israeli troops massing at the border and the US preparing a multinational force … Perhaps things will either cool down and return to the pre-crisis status quo, but the US and Israel have said this would be unacceptable … If they truly mean that and evidence suggests that they might, I fear all hell will break loose … Thus I feel we are truly standing on the precipice and the United States appears ready to push Israel and Lebanon into the abyss …

the ideological pretext

So that would explain why the Israeli army shoots at anything that moves in the south: the ideological pretext.

The ambulance hit outside of Tyre


Go it from here. It shows the precision of Israeli “intelligent” bombing of “terrorist” targets.

UN does not condemn Israeli attack on UNIFIL

The UN was aparently “shocked” by the killing of 4 UNIFIL on the hands of the Israeli army, although it did not condemned the incident according to a mild report on the issue (sorry can’t find a link in english but this is AFP):

تبنى مجلس الأمن الدولي بيانا ضعيفا، أمس، أعرب فيه عن إزاء مقتل أربعة جنود من قوة المراقبة الدولية في قصف إسرائيلي لموقعهم في الخيام، لكنه امتنع عن إدانة إسرائيل.
وأوضح البيان، الذي اعتمد بإجماع أعضاء المجلس ال,15 بعد يومين من المناقشات العاصفة، أن .
وعبر البيان عن . ودعا إسرائيل إلى .
ووصف المندوب الإسرائيلي لدى الأمم المتحدة دان غيلرمان البيان بأنه .
وكان المندوب الصيني لدى الأمم المتحدة وانغ غوانغيا حذر الولايات المتحدة من أن معارضتها لبيان يدين الهجوم قد تكون لها على المحادثات الجارية في المنظمة الدولية بخصوص ملف إيران النووي.
(أ ف ب، أ ب

Akh 3al UN…

In any case, the US and Israel will not allow the UN to be the possible multinational force. NATO is considered. We have to use all this USA-EU defense spending somewhere, don’t you think?

For those whom geography denies …

the pleasure of American television, I offer the following… (click on video clip in upper right corner)

Michael Young has lost his mind …

In this opinion piece, Mr. Young demonstrates just how strong his will to misrecognize realites in Lebanon has become. Were that I had the time, I would dissect it piece-by-piece, but it is so ridiculously absurd in its analysis that I imagine that even dullest reader would appreciate its desperation and falsehood …

I know that no one in Lebanon reads The Daily Star — believe me, it was a comfort when I was working there — but one can hardly read a magazine article or newspaper report in the United States these days without encountering Mr. Young. Apparently, nationality serves as badge of native expertise …

I guess I should not care and I guess it should be expected, but I am a bit disappointed that The Daily Star is alternating between the musings of David Ignatius and Michael Young on its op-ed page while Lebanon is burning. They are certainly entitled to their opinions, but the Israeli and American governments are not in need of local propaganda machines … Whatever …

The French get-the-expat-out task force

It seems that the French boat that took thousands of Frenchmen and women out of the country, to Turkey, then on to Paris, was the most sophisticated. On top of all the options you had in the American boat (TVs, lounge, sauna, swimming pool, etc.), you also had a shrink – You know how emotionally devastated these people are, they were in a warzone for god’s sake! – and, a dentist… yes a dentist. A friend of mine took this opportunity to check her teeth. All of this under the watchfull eye of a couple of French landed army helicopters, and some soldiers scattered around the boat.

Let’s ask the Lebanese government to send shrinks to the thousands of refugees from the south that are parked in a haphazard way in Beirut’s public schools. And a couple of dentists while we’re at it, because with the phosphore and other chemical dirt contained in the Israeli bombs they may need to clean up their teeth. Oh wait minute, it’s the whole face that has been dislocated (or blackened in certain cases), so why note send the elite of the Lebanese society: the estheticians (plastic surgeons)! For once, they’ll be working for a good cause!

Defining Down Victory

This JPost article looks into how Israel will define victory in Lebanon.

The downgrade:

There is a consensus, both at the political and the military levels, that Israel shouldn’t be doing that (occupying Lebanon below the Litani River) as the cost – in casualties, in economic damage caused by a widespread reservists call-up and in international support – is deemed prohibitive.

Victory is:

So now the IDF’s idea of victory over Hizbullah consists of a multinational force with real powers that will take control of southern Lebanon and ensure that Hizbullah’s rockets don’t return.

Success Rate:

So far the IDF has overrun Hizbullah strongholds in Maroun a-Ras, Bint Jbail and a handful of other villages but the IDF Intelligence branch estimates that Hizbullah controls 170 similar villages and towns throughout southern Lebanon.

Achievements:

After lowering the expectations of military success, the IDF high command still has a list of achievements: a significant downgrading of Hizbullah’s capabilities, the feeling that Israel is no longer afraid of confronting the organization head-on, turning Hassan Nasrallah into a fugitive with a price on his head, the deligitimization of Hizbullah even in the Arab world and a blow to Hizbullah’s morale when they found out that the IDF knew the location of most of its secret positions.

No offense, but that is pathetic …

United Nations … Reconsidered

Well, if the UN is really taking Israel’s side in the South, they make not like the thanks they get from Israel in return.

I have a hard time accepting your position, Bechir… Having known some of the UNIFIL guys down south, I have a hard time accepting that they would deliberately assist either side. The soldiers themselves have absolutely no love for either Hizbullah or Israel — they save their affection for unsuspecting Lebanese girls. As for their commanders, I have a hard time believing that they could be swayed into support of a particular military operation. Not because they are saints, but because they are in a rather vulnerable position, such that their safety and security from both sides depends on the appearance of equanimity.

As for your story from your reliable source, I think a much more likely explanation is that the UNIFIL guys probably felt like they would be overrun by the Israelis if they did not get out of the way … I have no idea, so that is just a guess. Moreover, given the Israelis’ willingness to hit UN targets if need be, perhaps they may be forgiven for fearing for their lives. Another possibility is that they were frustrated with Hizbullah putting them in the line of fire and thus wanted to send a message that they would not run interference at the risk of their lives … All such maneuvering, however, would be very situation specific and so again I would argue against any notion of a UNIFIL decision to assist the Israelis or Hizbullah … The devil is the details, though, so who knows? Not me …

As for the arrogance of the UN, well of course, but again we are talking about a large bureaucracy that responds to institutional needs as well as geo-political realities, so it would be hard for me to accept that the UN has somehow taken a pro-Israel position on fighting in the south on the operational level. Certainly, the UN writ-large has taken a political position on the crisis, but it is not in their nature for this to be translated quickly or at all into operational protocols. Moreover, even if such a decision was made — and again I say this is really highly unlikely, it is unlikely to have any force on the ground as those boys down there in the South just want to go home without being shot by either side …

Perhaps if the Irish were still there, UNIFIL might have more of a presence, more of a position that could not be f****d with, but alas the boys have returned to their draughthouses back home …

How can the Lebanese PM receive Rice?

While the US just sent a new shipment of arms to Israel that will go directly to kill more people in Lebanon? I totally agree with this article.
What amazes me a lot is that for some Lebanese this guy is a hero. Nobody has anything bad to say about him. I find many people criticizing the government and even siding with Hezbollah, but no one has put a decent criticism of Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Siniora. Because for them he speaks the voice of reason. It seems that the voice of reason is the voice of complete subjection to American goodwill for many Lebanese. I would stress the fact that this process is internalized in their psyche. I mean a lot of people are shocked by what’s going on and put the blame on the US and Israel. But if Rice comes and is kissed by Siniora, that’s ok because it is Rice after all, you can’t refuse a visit from her! it’s the US afterall!
This whole “let’s subject ourselves to the power of others, let’s get money from donors outside thereby solving our economic problem without reform anything from within” mentality, this whole business mercantilist mentality of being constantly suffering a debt and the conditions posed by others while mending bits and pieces in a piece meal way is simply intolerable. And too destructive in this confessional each-lord-has-a-outside-ally setting.
Likewise the same reasoning applies when Hezbollah fights Israel. the mainstream thought is that Hezbollah should never provoke Israel because Israel rules. Well now the rules of the game are perhaps definitely reversed.

UN as accomplice of Israel

Is it possible for the UN to be that arrogant?

The UN humanitarian chief accused Hezbollah late Monday of “cowardly blending” among Lebanese civilians and causing the deaths of hundreds during two weeks of cross-border violence with Israel. (…)
Jan Egeland spoke with reporters at the Larnaca airport in Cyprus after a visit to Lebanon on his mission to coordinate an international aid effort. (…)
“Consistently, from the Hezbollah heartland, my message was that Hezbollah must stop this cowardly blending … among women and children,” he said. “I heard they were proud because they lost very few fighters and that it was the civilians bearing the brunt of this. I don’t think anyone should be proud of having many more children and women dead than armed men.

While acknowledging the fact that this could be true (although it still need to be proven), does this UN official forget how the UN stopped a bus full of civilians – women and children – from entering their building, only to find themselves killed? Does this UN official forget that the UN tacitly helps Israel in the fighting as it happened in Maroun El Ras?

Another Golden Nugget …

from the Jerusalem Post, which is fast becoming my favorite newspaper and daily addiction … Read this:

“Indeed, if the history of warfare over the past two centuries has taught us anything, it is that a people’s ability to win in wartime is not due primarily to technological prowess, but stems first and foremost from the shared belief that one’s cause is just and that there is no choice but to stand and fight.”

Or later:

“Given the way in which Israelis are responding to this war, it seems that we underestimated exactly how important it is to have a clear conscience.”

Priceless … Do they have any idea what they are saying … I do not know …

Are the Israelis Losing? Is that even possible …

A council of despair is convening over at Haaretz, while the IDF, as the Angry Arab has been documenting, has been making triumphal pronouncements that befit a boyscout troop, not an army that once found itself in Beirut in six days … What does it all mean? Who knows?

“Who would have believed that a guerrilla organization with a few hundred regular fighters, something like a brigade and a half, could paralyze half a country, firing off hundreds of missiles every day? A total of 2,200 by Sunday morning, says the defense minister. Who would have believed that cities like Safed, Acre, Nahariya, Tiberias and especially Haifa, the capital of the North, would wake up every morning to the sound of sirens and deadly rocket fire that would turn tens of thousands of people into refugees and shut down life in a large part of the country? And that’s even before Hezbollah has tried to use its long-range missiles on Tel Aviv.”

Who indeed?

“Who would have believed that the Israel Defense Forces, the army that is prepared for large-scale wars, that Iran fears will attack its nuclear facilities, that can drop 23 tons of bombs in a single night, is incapable of stopping Hezbollah’s missile fire? How is that as soon as the IDF announces Hezbollah’s TV station has been bombed, Hassan Nasrallah pops up in blooming health to continue his taunts against us?”

Who indeed? I know we are all conditioned by history to expect it to be the Arabs making ridiculous false claims about stunning military successes? But are the Israelis encroaching on this Arab province? Impossible to know unless you down south, but interesting to consider … One alternative explanation for the Israelis annoucing the capture of dusty villages with such pomp and circumstance may be the utter lack of a political strategy for waging this war and the fact that the political class had no time to prepare the Israeli public on the what, why and wherefor …

Given that the ultimate goal of the military adventure seems to change each day (prisoners, then destroy Hizbullah, then disarm Hizbullah, then push back Hizbullah, then enable the GOL to disarm Hizbullah and then prepare the border for multinational force), the Israelis may need these daily “victories,” however small, as a sort of narrative that takes the place of actually having some strategic objective and thereby political strategy for their war.

Here is Shimon Peres calling for the Lebanese Army to help out … Which only adds fuel to speculation that either the Israelis have become clueless about Lebanon or are starting to grasp for straws ..

“In this war, there is no alternative to victory against terrorists,” Peres told Israel’s parliament. “Morally, Hezbollah has already been defeated. It will also be defeated militarily.”
Hezbollah made a strategic error, he said, when it assumed that “with `12,000 rockets, it could break Israel’s spirit.”
“This could be your great opportunity,” Peres said, referring to the Lebanese. “You have at your service an army of 80,000 troops. Where are they?”

Also, Lebanese Speaker Nabih Berri seemed cool as a cucumber today with Sec. Rice which may mean he knows something she does not … We will have to stay tuned …

Unfortunately, this may be bad news, as the Israelis will be all the more dangerous if they are either operating without any knowledge of Lebanese realities or becoming desperate as either scenario could lead the Israelis to look for something spectacular to reinvigorate sagging morale at home for the war of no purpose …. More difficult is trying to think of some way the Israeli leadership will be able to sell this adventure as a victory back home? We will see …

United Nation’s complicity with Israel

According to an anonymous source – again you will have to trust me on that, and it may well be out on the open soon – the United Nations offices in Maroun el Ras, the border-line village that the Israeli army is desperately trying to occupy and still did not (contrary to optimistic Israeli reports), have let the Israeli army pass through their side of the city thereby surprising Hezbollah fighters who did not take into consideration that the UN would “give a hand” to the Israelis.

First the Marwaheen massacre of women and children that wouldn’t have happened if the UN would have opened the doors for those who were escaping, and that in effect threw them back in the midst of Israeli ad-hoc shooting, and now this story, all of this is starting to give me the creeps, especially if you also add to it the possibility that the IDF could be a legitimate candidate for a “multinational” force sanctified by the UN.

I think we should stop calling it the UN and just address it as the USA surrogates.

Resisting A Multinational Disaster …

Early reports suggest that establishing a MNF in Lebanon is pure fantasy … It seems a ridiculous proposition unless Israel is prepared to severly degrade Hizbullah’s capacities, which is impossible unless it plans to kill tens of thousands of Lebanese. Perhaps it is all political cover for the Israeli onslaught — something for Rice to do — but really it is quite obvious that there is no end game here for the Israelis or the Americans, which makes everything all the more dangerous …

A number of those in the comments section have objected to Bechir including reports of various groups taking arms and a report indicating that a number of LF members had been arrested for passing information to Israel. To be sure, I can understand the hostility and/or disdain some might feel toward the mere mention of such reports/rumors and appreciate how they might rankle some as paranoid or malicious or stale or tired or hyprocritical or all of the above …

However, it seems naive not to recognize the enormous pressure that is about to brought to bear on Lebanon and Rice’s visit is just the start. Indeed, it will make the current onslaught seem mild. The future is becoming quite clear: Israel will become more and more militarily involved in Lebanon in the coming weeks and this mission creep will bring enormous devastation and enormous pressure on pre-existant Lebanese divisions …

In a re-run of days long past, Israel will begin to get involved Lebanese politics as it knows that it cannot disarm Hizbullah by itself … Israel will be debating whether or not it can trust the Lebanese government to disarm Hizbullah and deploy to the South or whether or not it should try to force a Multinational Force to come to Lebanon. Weighing these option is an impossible task for the Israelis as it depends to much of the course of events. Moreover, they have failed at this before and will likely again.

If Israel places its trust in the GOL, it will probably ask the Americans and the Saudis to take the lead in engaging Lebanese parties directly, but to have this succeed the Israelis will need to put the brakes on its military machine. It is hard to imagine Hizbullah or other resistance parties being willing to compromise with the government while still in-tact militarily but also while the Israelis are attacking their towns and villages (the idea of cease-fire being a prerequisit for any agreement). Support for Hizbullah and the resistance is likely strong enough that the Israelis will give up on this option when they begin to sense that Hizbullah will not likely fade in the face of this Israeli-American-Saudi pressure even if it comes with a Lebanese face and with considerable support from some Lebanese …

Having lost faith in this option, Israel will then likely seek to create conditions for a multinational force. To achieve this goal, it will attempt to wreak destruction by two means: more aggressively destroying Lebanon and/or playing on Lebanon’s divisions such that it induces a collapse of the government and possibly a civil war … Nothing will bring a force quicker than utter chaos as it will melt away Arab opposition to such a scenario …

The stakes are high and whatever frustrations are currently simmering will have a great deal of heat applied to them … To think that things will not get worse is beyond optimistic … Just listen to the Israelis shifts on what they are doing in Lebanon and why …

Some have accused this blog of engaging in “infantile rumors” or of suffering from a “complexe du chrétien bourgeois khomeyniste et anti-américain” or of being acolytes of the likes of Assem Qanso or Nasser Kandil or of being dilettantes of the “genre City Cafe” (although I must say it has been too long and too many scotch whiskeys for me to know if I have ever been there or what the hell that means) … I can appreciate the sentiment as we are often of too like a mind on a great many issues, and we are perhaps guilty at times of a sort of false solmenity and a nagging narcissism of the beyond bourgeious variety …

HOWEVER, our perspective is grounded in our sense of the horrible weight that is about to placed on Lebanon and thus we are both a bit terrified of the death and destruction that might come with it … And it is not based on what we think Lebanon should look like in the future … I myself support disarming Hizbullah, but doing so under foreign pressure is a recipe for utter disaster … I would also add that fears that a Hizbullah victory will somehow plunge Lebanon into the darkness (the axis of evil, muslim dominion, whatever) are misplaced as this is not Lebanon either and underestimates the forces, talents and realities of Lebanon that will never allow this to happen. I do not doubt that Hizbullah can be as venal and power-hungry as any other party in Lebanon, so it is not blind faith in the party that leads me to this conclusion. It is the Lebanese themselves, regardless of their political orientation. (Although I would add at the risk of being criticized that Nasrallah is the very image of Lebanese patience, sophistication, and cunning and I imagine it would be quite fun to hear his stories of dealing with some of the stone-age cretins he must come across when travelling to Iran and across the clerical world and hearing about his dealing with the cold-war, cold-brain miscreants within the Syrian Leviathan).

We, authors, are not without our ideological precommittments or intellectual impediments, but our support for Hizbullah does not spring from our long admiration of the group or our synchronicity with its different political objectives or our disdain of all things related to other Lebanese factions or the Independence05 movement (indeed, I myself, probably more than Bechir, have sympathies with the March 14 movement and some of long-held grievances of LF supporters) …… NO … Instead, I believe it is the only national position that will save Lebanon from horrors in the days to come…

Yes, Hizbullah’s gamble has cost Lebanon greatly in the last two weeks, and yes, in a perfect world, Hizbullah should not be allowed to make decisions of war and peace that affect all of Lebanon, and no, Hizbullah does not deserve some super-status within Lebanese politics that puts it above reproach as truly the party of god …

Mais, les jeux sont faits … and only a Hizbullah victory will prevent the Americans and the Israelis from trying to impose their order on Lebanon — an effort that I believe will result in a civil war … In a sense, perhaps the issues of the arms could only be settled this way so that parties know the exact dimensions of the issues at hand …

Between the possible destinies awaiting Lebanon, I believe a civil war is the worst and I see a Hizbullah victory as the only way to avoid such a possibility. To be sure, a stalemate with the Israelis is victory. But it will be difficult for the Israelis to accept any scenario where they cannot leave Lebanon and tell a story of victory over terrorism back home, so we are talking about enormous costs for Lebanon … But these costs pale in comparison to other possibilities …

Maybe I am wrong, but one need only look to Iraq to know that the Americans will tolerate a failed state if they feel the costs of ensuring success are too high domestically. Israel is no different and thus would be happy to call on the Syrians, who will undoubtedly sit on the sidelines, waiting to play whatever hand it is dealt and willing to return to lines drawn long ago …

For myself, it is really a question of revisiting the civil war … Not to oversimplify or ignore how the following can be used as a political or intellectual weapon, but the old question returns: Will the Lebanese body politic resist foreign temptation or will it turn in on and against itself … These are questions the Independence05 movement could never begin to address … It is no wonder their only source of unity was 1559 and an appreciation of how far Hariri money could go in creating a slim majority in Parliament … That is not to undermine the legitimacy of some of their positions, but the whole of Lebanon is about to come under fire … And neither the US, nor the Arab World, nor the Saudis, nor the French, nor the international community, nor the Syrians, nor the Iranians, nor anybody else will protect Lebanon from catching fire …

Thus, while one can expect and even appreciate some political differences, such differences will be the strands by which others will attempt to unravel Lebanon … And it this fear that motivates Bechir and me, not any conviction concerning the rightness of our position or any hatred of contrary views or any desire to score points in some imaginary intellectual game … How to balance these differences is, of course, the key and we seem to be erring on the side of caution in this respect, perhaps grieviously so according to some of our critics … Fortunately, this is just a blog, Bechir and I are merely releasing some excess psychic energy and not plotting the future course of the Lebanese nation from our seats in Parliament …

But, if we are guilty of anything (in my advanced age, I suffer from an arthritis of the mind that does not yet effect a younger bechir), it is not that we are apparatchiks of some ill-defined “third worldism,” but it rather too aware of frailty: first and foremost, our own, and secondarily, that which we see in others …

My apologies to Bechir, if I have misstated his position ….

Friends in Christ …

With friends like these, one can get a sense of the rot … It almost makes my former boss in Rome seem decent and highly evolved … Even Abe Foxman has doubts about the group …

BREAKING NEWS …

Amid reports that Israel began planning its current military campaign in May 2000, Benjamin Netanyahu revealed sensitive Israeli military intelligence to Fox News on Monday night. According to Netanyahu, Iran and Hizbullah began planning the kidnapping of the Israeli soldiers in 941 with the disappearance of the 12th Imam … No official response yet from the IDF on criticism that it should have began planning much earlier, but Israeli intelligence officials indicated that military planners have considered the return of the Mahdi to be threat to Israel’s northern border for several centuries… Story developing …

Saudi Arabia Asks U.S. to Intervene in Lebanon

according to the Washington post:

The Saudi foreign minister personally urged President Bush yesterday to intervene to stop the violence in Lebanon, the most direct sign of mounting frustration among key Arab states with what they see as a hands-off U.S. posture toward Israeli strikes against Hezbollah.

In an Oval Office meeting yesterday afternoon, Prince Saud al-Faisal said, he delivered a letter to Bush from Saudi King Abdullah asking for U.S. help in arranging an immediate cease-fire, a stance U.S. officials have repeatedly rejected on the grounds that it is premature. U.S. officials would not comment directly on the request, saying only that the two sides discussed the humanitarian situation, reconstruction and how to end the violence.

So if I was an Iranian, what would I do? Let’s play this game shall we? you play the Saudi, and I play the Iranian (it was a completely neutral choice I swear!). Would you have a Risk board? I take the black!

Just Plain Bizarre …

“The state of Georgia has always stood by Israel and we will continue to do so,” says Georgia’s governor, as quoted in an article in the JPost.

For an American, this is beyond funny … I want a poll done immediately to determine exactly how many Georgians can identify Israel on a map … I have a guess and it would only take one key stroke …

Is the pro-Israel lobby not worried about over-reach? Let them have FOX, CNN, the WaPost, the NYTimes, the Wall Street Journal and all of the think tanks in DC, but for God’s sake, leave Georgia alone … It just plain looks bad …

More seriously, this is interesting because it reveals that pro-Israel advocacy in the United States is not a monolith that somehow takes its orders from the Israeli government. Instead, it is a highly competitive industry, with various groups seeking to outdo one another and conquer new terrain in the warfare of domestic American politics … I would be impressed if I did not think it had such horrible consequences for actual Israelis, not to mention their neighbors …

Israeli Geography …

JPost reports fighting in in Bint Jbeil, Hizbullah’s “terror capital …”

With all the clamoring about incitement in Palestinian textbooks, we may need to look into the IDF’s field maps for Lebanon. They sound wonderfully cartoonish … And maybe even pop-up terrorists for kids … Seriously, Angry Arab says the Israelis are outdoing Nasser in their war reporting and he might be right …

Hizbullah Gets to Work on the Home Front …

According to The Daily Star,

“The Lebanese government will lead the exchange through the intermediary of a third party. This has been accepted by Hizbullah,” Speaker Nabih Berri said Sunday.

Clever move for Hizbullah in this on the domestic level, but what is in it for the GOL, other than an opportunity to be embarrassed?

Rice Breaks the Ice …

Rice was apparently quite chatty on her flight from DC to Jerusalem or so it seems:

“Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Sunday the United States’ poor relationship with Syria is overstated and indicated an openness to working with Damascus to resolve the crisis in the Middle East. En route to the region, Rice noted that the United States still has a diplomatic mission and State Department officials working in the Syrian capital. That presence, she said, is a “‘channel for dealing with Syria.'”

“The problem isn’t that people haven’t talked to the Syrians. It’s that the Syrians haven’t acted,” she said. “I think this is simply just a kind of false hobby horse that somehow it’s because we don’t talk to the Syrians.

“It’s not as if we don’t have diplomatic relations,” she said. “We do.”

Again, hard to tell if this is just the administration fighting off domestic criticism for not engaging in diplomacy or the beginning of a thaw in US-Syrian relations … We shall see …

It’s true: Israelis really are better than the rest of us …

See this article about the 60th anniversary of the bombing of the King David Hotel … Priceless … Debating the history of the Jewish state and what constitutes terrorism while adding historical material for chapters in later editions … Seriously, Israel is both the great hope and the great despair of the region …