Condi Rice continues the Bush Administration’s querulous non-responsive policy toward the Israel-Lebanon conflict:
Israel may need to prolong its offensive in Lebanon to further reduce the threat from Hezbollah, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said today…
Ms. Rice appeared to support a longer-term Israeli effort to inflict decisive damage to Hezbollah’s presence in Lebanon. She also said she was considering a trip to the region.
“A cessation of violence is crucial, but if that cessation of violence is hostage to Hezbollah’s next decision to launch missiles into Israel or Hamas’s next decision to abduct an Israeli citizen, then we will have gotten nowhere,” she said on “Fox News Sunday.”
I call that response “a little more war, please.” When have you ever heard the senior foreign policy official of a supposedly peace-loving (I know, it’s a joke really) nation say: “I think we need more death and mayhem in the world.” Besides, she’s accepted lock, stock and smoking barrel the bogus Israeli contention that continuing the fighting will somehow diminish Hezbollah’s future capacity to inflict damage on Israel. Such unbelievable short-sightedness! If Hezbollah has 12,000 missiles and uses all of them in this conflict, does anyone really believe that it won’t get more, and quickly? And that the new ones won’t be more lethal and effective than the previous ones? This is a zero sum game, fellas. You don’t get to win, Israel. All you do is increase the suffering of your own people along with those of your enemies.
Madeleine Albright conveyed my sentiment precisely when she said:
Former Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright — speaking with unusual candor considering the traditional injunction in American politics against speaking ill of United States foreign policy while the president is abroad — said of the Bush administration, “I’m stunned, I’m frankly stunned that they have not been involved” more in the region.
“I wish that the secretary had announce that she was leaving St. Petersburg and going with other foreign ministers to the region to begin shuttle diplomacy,” she said on the ABC News program “This Week,” referring to Ms. Rice. “We can’t wait for the violence to stop.”
Please, Democrats do or say something to oppose the Bush Administration’s current lassitude. Get Rice off her duff and get her to the Middle East–NOW!
I have a slightly wild and crazy theory that the U.S. wants to continue the war because it wants to see how deeply Iran can be drawn into it. Bush would like nothing more than to gin up more anti-Iran hysteria by pinning the blame for Lebanon on Iran. And he certainly sees Hezbollah as a proxy for Iran–and the friend of my enemy is my enemy as far as Bush is concerned.
In all of your posts about the recent conflict, you haven’t offered any realistic solutions. Hamas and Hezbollah’s presence is a danger to Israel. Hamas openly says that it’s goal is the destruction of Israel and there’s no indication that they’ll settle for less. As far as a prisoner exchange goes, the offers from Hamas and Hezbollah aren’t exactly even. How of hundreds of prisoners do they want released? And if Israel makes it so easy, they’ll just do it again. That fact that Israel’s done prisoner exchanges in the past doesn’t make it a good idea.
The blame for civilian casualties should fall squarely on Hamas and Hezbollah’s heads. If they return the soldiers tomorrow, Israel will have no more reason to stay. What’s more, many of the casualties are a result of using human shields. If you know that you’re a military target, you shouldn’t surround yourself with civilians.
Israel should not respond to Hizbullah incursions because this is a ‘zero sum’ game? Well, I guess Israel should just pack up and go home, then…? Oh, wait… Israel *is*home. Reality check. The Jewish state is not just about to fold up its tent. Hizbullah lays proud claim to some of the most dastardly deeds of terrorism on the planet…. Once in a while, they attack a military target -while sheltering among hapless civilians. Here’s a thought. It took years and years for Hizbullah to amass its arsenal, not five minutes. Perhaps attacking Hizbullah and targeting its supplies with overwhelming force is exactly what is called for as an antidote to ‘assymetrical warfare’. Hizbullah called Israel out. Well, bully for them. They chose violence as a negotiating chip; game theory demands something other than rolling over and playing dead as a response. Iran, Hizbullah’s chief supporter, is a menace to the planet, too. It is time it is called to account for its role in the region. Islamic radicalism is well over three decades old in Iran. Myopic or truncated views of history and slogans about the Bush administration do not help, here.
Or what Daniel said.
Richard Silverstein says
I certainly have. You just haven’t been reading closely enough. Withdraw from Gaza. Begin final status negotiations with Abbas. Talk to Hamas either openly or secretly to see if there is any common ground. Free Palestinian prisoners. End targeted assasinations. Stop starving Gaza to death. Insist that the PA (including Hamas) recognize Israel and a 2 state solution.
Withdraw from Lebanon. Accept Siniora’s offer of Lebanese army deployment in southern Lebanon in return for a ceasefire.
Talk to Syria either openly or secretly. Return the Golan in return for Syrian recognition of Israel and expulsion of Meshal fr. the country.
Israel can no more eliminate their “presence” than it can suck the air from the atmosphere. The belief that it can do so is the height of hubris & foolhardiness (if they’re not synonyms).
You’ve already said that here. I rebutted your ideas & you haven’t added anything to the mix to make them new or improved. Who in Hamas (besides the Charter whose contents no Hamas member seems to know or remember) is advocating Israel’s “destruction?” Ismail Haniye? No. Perhaps Khaled Meshal (though by telling Israel the only way to get Shalit back was by negotiating with him that seems to obviate that theory as well, since presumably he couldn’t negotiate with phantoms). Hamas has far more to worry about regarding its own physical survival without plotting Israel’s demise. This entire line of argument is so fusty and old. Israeli rightists and even moderates trot it out at the drop of a hat when other arguments seem to fail.
More tired, stale arguments. Kidnappings don’t happen because Israel has rendered itself vulnerable by previously negotiating for the release of hostages. Kidnappings happen because relations bet. Israel & its neighbors become so noxious & corrosive that its enemies feel the need to make statements by taking Israelis prisoner. Since when did Yitzchak Rabin or Ariel Sharon’s previous prisoner exchanges after Israelis were kidnapped start a rash of copy cat kidnappings? Didn’t happen. I think those prisoner exchanges WERE a good thing, as a prisoner exchange in current circumstances would be a good thing. If it brings peace, if it brings the prisoners home to their loved ones, if it prevents more Israeli civilians from being murdered by rockets–then it will have proven itself a very good thing.
The blame for civilian casualties should fall squarely on Hamas and Hezbollah AND ISRAEL’s heads. Israel has murdered far more innocent Lebanese and Palestinian civilians than Hamas and Hezbollah combined. I’m not condoning or excusing Hezbollah’s reprehensible guerilla attack against the IDF which started the northern conflagration. But that by no means justifies cold blooded ambushes of civilian convoys leading to the deaths of many more than a score of children.
You are not only naïve, you’re not reading the statements of Israel’s leaders. They are in Lebanon to “change the rules of the game” (their words not mine). That is a far broader, ambitious, & more foolhardy goal than the mere freeing of kidnapped soldiers. Israel is now in Lebanon for the same reason Sharon invaded in 1982. It wishes to “solve” the Lebanon “problem” once & for all by ‘somehow’ (Halutz’s word, not mine) eliminating Hezbollah. The kidnappings are not exactly a pretext but they serve the same purpose that the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand served in initiating WWI. Israel’s trying to do the same in Gaza as in Lebanon by also trying to eliminating Hamas. It can’t work. Don’t you see that?
I’m afraid you’ve been reading too much Little Green Footballs. I’ve been reading Haaretz & Ynetnews every day & not once have I heard this contention. Besides, how do you possibly justify rocketing convoys filled with civilians? Are you trying to argue that those children were human shields for Hezbollah operatives hiding within the vehicles? If this is what you are arguing, I’m afraid your moral position is totally bankrupt. Pls. tell me that’s not what you are arguing because I thought better of you until I read that.
Richard Silverstein says
Not what I said. A whole series of events led up to Hezbollah’s guerilla attack. Seeing Hezbollah’s assault in isolation from those prior events leaves you seriously blind to reality. Israel had mounted a series of lethal attacks on Gaza civilians which left around 25 dead in the course of a month. The Palestinians only response had been using Qassams which had not killed anyone (though it had traumatized Sderot & to a lesser extent Ashkelon).
Hamas & Fatah were about the sign a Prisoner’s Document which might’ve set the stage for negotiations with Israel and Palestinian acceptance of a 2 state solution. An extreme military faction commanded by Meshal decided to torpedo this development & ordered the attack on Kerem Shalom. Then Israel ordered a massive invasion of Gaza & pummeled its civilians day & night causing enormous suffering.
That is the full context of Hezbollah’s actions (which by the way I by no means condone). So what I’m saying is that if Israel had moderated its behavior prior to the Hezbollah attack, then Hezbollah probably would not have attacked at all. A fire does not start spontaneously. It needs a fuel source which Israel only too happily provided by rocketing crowded urban Gaza neighborhoods & killing entire famiies in the process.
You simply do not understand how guerilla war works. As quickly as Hezbollah uses up its arsenal it will be replaced. It took years for it to build up its current arsenal because there was no full scale conflict to justify great haste. Now there is a full scale conflict and whoever is supplying Hezbollah will make haste to refill its armories with all the weapons it needs to fight Israel. As I said, it’s a no-win situation. If Israel is not willing to occupy southern Lebanon & expel its Shiite inhabitants, then it cannot vanquish Hezbollah. And even if it was willing to do this the Shiites would just regroup to fight another day & in another place.
“Game theory?” You’ve got to be kidding. Maybe you’re sitting in a room somewhere playing war games or whatever you wish to call it. But I don’t deal in game theory or psychological brinkmanship, I deal in real flesh & blood people who are dying on both sides of this conflict. They’re not just rolling over and “playing dead.” They ARE dead. Stone cold dead.
And I’d just love to hear yr prescription: a few bunker buster nuclear weapons down the craw? Send in the marines? How would you “call Iran to account?”
Israel just withdrew from Gaza less than a year ago and it was understood by Palestinian militants as a victory for violence. After losing the parliamentary election, Abbas doesn’t have enough power to enforce any “final status” if even he and Olmert could come to an agreement. I’ll admit that I don’t know what the feasibility is regarding talks with Hamas, so I’ll let that go. Which Palestinian prisoners should be freed? All of them? What about would-be suicide bombers who were caught? Or terrorist masterminds who were captured? Granted, I don’t know what the proportion is of dangerous terrorists to mere political prisoners but I don’t see the value in releasing the former.
As for targetted assasinations, I suppose it depends on who is targetted. If somebody is spewing violent antisemitism and brainwashing teenagers to blow themselves up on a crowed bus, I think Israel has a responsibility to kill him in the name self-defense. On a related note, Israel also ought to demand that a third party review Palestinian textbooks and lesson plans as a prerequisite for any aid.
If you’re right, then why don’t Hamas leaders come out and clarify the misconception that so many Israelis have? Hamas has done nothing to convince me that their charter is at all inaccurate.
It’s very clear to Hamas and Hezbollah drew first blood. Hamas has had many opportunities to recognize Israel and renounce violence, which would have led to more peace talks and more withdrawls from the West Bank.
Had Hezbollah not kidnapped two soliders, we wouldn’t be having this discussion. Tell me why, exactly, eliminating Hezbollah and Hamas “won’t work”. Hezbollah is as dangerous to Lebanon as it is to Israel. Why shouldn’t Israel try to crush their infrastructure and assasinate their leaders? And if Israel can’t eliminate their presence completely, shouldn’t it at least try to weaken their influence?
You’re right. My comment was not relevant to the recent outbreak of violence.
Richard Silverstein says
For the same reason that eliminating the Vietcong didn’t work during the Vietnam war; nor did eliminating the Algerian insurgents during the French-Algerian war; nor has eliminating the Chechen fighters during that war; nor has eliminating Iraqi insurgents during the Iraq war; nor did eliminating the American rebels during the Revolutionary War. I could go on. You simply cannot eliminate or vanquish such a force unless conditions were far different than they indeed are.
Hezbollah may indeed be a dangerous force to Israel (but I wouldn’t give you the right to determine what is or isn’t dangerous for Lebanon for the simple reason that you’re not Lebanese), but that doesn’t mean that Israel has the right or ability to simply work its will on the situation. Israel certainly can & will do whatever it wishes in Lebanon which may include the same stupid targeted assassination attempts against Hezbollah that it’s using against Palestinians militants. Such violence will work even less well in Lebanon than it works in Gaza (which is not well at all). Kill one leader & another takes his place. And the new leader may be more effective than the previous one. For every leader killed 100 new recruits may be signed up. Eventually, they will become the leaders if you kill everyone ahead of them in the line of leadership. But you will never exhaust that line as long as they continue to hate you so.
Besides it is foolish to argue that Israel is eliminating Hezbollah ‘infrastructure’ in Lebanon when it blockades the entire nation, destroys virtually the entire bridge & road system throughout the country, bombs port facilities along with seemingly indiscriminate attacks on such “terrorist infrastructure” as civilian cars attempting to ferry children to safety. The problem with such Israeli counter-insurgent operations is that they invariably kill civilians, often indiscriminately, without doing serious damage to their targets.
Has Hezbollah been weakened by these attacks? Hardly. They’ve only been made stronger. If half the country supported them before any of this happened (I don’t know the actual figure, I’m making that up), then virtually the entire nation supports them now. How hard will it be for Hezbollah to recruit new soldiers in its war of resistance to Israel? Not hard at all. They’ll come running from everywhere answering its call.
I don’t support Hezbollah by any means and wish what I was saying was wrong as I don’t want Hezbollah to get stronger. But Israel’s policies guarantee that this will be the outcome.
Dan Sniderman says
My opinion is this conflict (perhaps we should be calling it a war) is the result of unilateralism on the side of Israel followed by escalation of violence by both sides.
Lets step back and review the events of the past few weeks…
The Palestinians (I don’t know which faction was behind it) start with Qassam rockets launched into northern Israel. Correct me if I’m wrong – it caused much anxiety and fear (and justifyably so) amongst the Israeli population – but little else. I don’t recall there being much in the way of signficant property damage – let alone human casualty.
Israel then escalates the violence by shelling, and Hamas then raiding an IDF post killing two and capturing a third. Israel responds by invading Gaza, and targeting infrastructure. This fails to get the soldier released – and the Palestinians continue fighting.
Israel responds with more targetted assasinations. Then the law of unintended consequences kick in – and Hezbollah attacks a border outpost on their border – killing and capturing more IDF soldiers – and starting a series of very lethal and significant rocket attacks. I personally don’t believe that Israel forsaw this.
My point to those who support the Israeli Strategy of escalation – it sure as hell doesn’t seem to me to be working. Things seem to me to be getting progressively worse. I can’t imagine any of the people in Haifa perfer things this week to last week.
For internal political consumption – acting tough plays well. But I can’t think of too many cases where wars have led to their desired outcome.
I see a lot of commonality between the Israeli Palestianian crisis and the US-Iran and US-North Korea conflicts. In each case a “superior” power refuses to treat the other bilaterally. I believe much of this has to do with internal political concerns (on each side)….