Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Diplomacy and the Hounds of Hell, Part II

Israeli forces have engaged in heavy combat with Hizbullah, seeking to eliminate Hizbullah strongholds from along the border. The IDF is also after the bagmen and their money storage areas that are keeping Hizbullah in business.

Hizbullah continues to fire rockets into Northern Israel. There have been additional injuries in Israel as well. And the Lebanese government does itself no favors by announcing that it's holding 15 people it claims were collaborating with Israel in Beirut. They claim that they were providing Israel with targeting data. Well, that beats firing indiscriminately and pulverizing the entire area to kill a few terrorists.

And doesn't this beat all, some are now realizing that leaking the timing of Sec. State Rice's visit to the region as it was being planned was a real bad idea. No kidding. Nothing quite like giving aid and comfort to terrorists by letting them know that they're going to be saved by the diplomats, who are more interested in process and paper than facts on the ground and an unending desire among the terrorists to wage a genocidal conflict against Israel.

Israel says that it doesn't want to involve Syria in the fighting. Well, that's all well and good but Syria is involved in the fighting, as is Iran - providing direct and indirect aid to Hizbullah and Hamas. Trying to divert attention from this fact does not make it go away. It is understandable that Israeli leadership doesn't want to expand this conflict any further than it has to, but this goes back to a point I've been making since the latest round of fighting began - Hizbullah and Hamas are symptoms of the problem. The root cause of the problem is Syrian and Iranian intentions for the region.

And the basic calculus for ending this conflict hasn't changed either. It will still require someone from Hizbullah agreeing to terms, that Hizbullah isn't exactly going to want to do for reasons I've laid out in the past, and that Israel does not want to concede because it's national security is at stake:
The question is not only what will stop Israel's onslaught but also what will the conditions be that will allow Hassan Nasrallah to nod approvingly. Mediators heard about what may work in a meeting with Nabih Berri, a "contact person" to Hezbollah, the speaker of Lebanon's parliament and head of Amal, another Shi'ite group. According to Berri, even if the United Nations decides to deploy a "significant" force to south Lebanon, it will need Nasrallah's approval, otherwise such a force will be involved in incessant fighting and Israel will continue to suffer missile attacks.

If Hezbollah will be asked to lay down its arms, Nasrallah will have to approve this since there is not a single political power in Lebanon on Tuesday that is capable of carrying out the group's disarmament. In fact, the idea of a disarmed Hezbollah is so far-fetched to senior Israel Defense Forces officers and Israeli politicians that they are willing to make do with a "significant weakening" of the group.

It turns out that even the mumbling of George Bush, in between bites, that Syria must be told to cut "that shit" out, is not exactly practical. Syria will be willing to negotiate if the boycott and threat on the nation is lifted, and the international investigation into the murder of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri is called off and all plans to bring the accused before an international tribunal are scrapped. Some of these conditions, especially canceling the international tribunal, is the precondition with which Hezbollah confronted Lebanon's Prime Minister Fuad Siniora in return for its cooperation in government and peace along the border with Israel.

Military pressure on Lebanon has not affected Lebanon's willingness to change its terms or see the issue of disarmament as anything but an internal Lebanese matter. Several days prior to the attack on Israel's border and the abduction of the two soldiers, Nasrallah agreed in principle that if his preconditions were met he would keep the border peaceful. As part of these understandings, Nasrallah also agreed in principle to allow the Shaba Farms to be liberated through diplomatic means.
Hizbullah is more than willing to go back on its word and lie to further its goals. That has cost Lebanon dearly, and it is unable to eliminate the threat posed by Hizbullah on its own. An additional international peacekeeping force will not change things either - only add to the targets Hizbullah can and will attack as there's already an international force in Lebanon, which has failed miserably to do anything to stop the carnage wrought by Hizbullah's belligerence.

Meanwhile, more than 1,000 Americans were evacuated from Lebanon on a cruise ship. Is Newsweek surprised that Israel, whose polity is notoriously divided under normal circumstances, has come together in the face of an existential threat? It shouldn't be. Most Israelis recognize an existential threat when they see it up close and personal, and this conflict poses that threat to Israel, particularly when Iran repeatedly makes statements calling for Israel's destruction and urges Hizbullah to continue its campaign of mayhem and death - in Israel and Lebanon.

The primary bloggers to check with are Carl in Jerusalem, Israellycool, Dave Bender, Meryl Yourish, Euphoric Reality, Pajamas Media, and Hot Air. Check back with them regularly for updates.

Again, some people (read NYT to see whom) do not realize the nature of warfare and proportionality. If your job is to win the war and defeat the enemy who wishes to wipe you out for all eternity, you do not put down your gun to engage your enemy with a knife. You shoot the enemy dead. Hizbullah is fighting with all the tools at its disposal, and is engaging in a guerilla war with Israel, just as it has done for decades. Israel is eliminating the threat posed by Hizbullah by going after all its weapons caches, which Hizbullah purposefully stores in civilian areas to blend in and maximize the carnage if discovered by Israeli forces.
“Terrorists use the population and live among them,” Ms. Livni said. “It’s difficult to target like a surgery. Unfortunately, civilians sometimes pay the price of giving shelter to terrorists.” Under pressure or not, she said, citing Israeli intelligence, many civilians in southern Lebanon have Katyusha and other rockets under their beds.

“When you go to sleep with a missile,” she said, “you might find yourself waking up to another kind of missile.”

Those arguments leave Lebanese and Gazans cold.
Well, I have little sympathy for those Lebanese and Gazans who find such arguments cold because they have permitted terrorists to operate openly within their cities, towns, and villages, stockpiling weapons, and purposefully putting civilians in harms way. If they want to complain about their situation, let it fall on the deaf ears of Hamas and Hizbullah leaders, who see them only as cannon fodder for media manipulation.

The NYT also reports that US and Israeli forces were caught off guard by the sophistication and kinds of missiles being launched into Israel, particularly the range of those weapons. Well, if they're being caught off guard by the ranges of these rockets and missiles, what else do the Iranians have up their sleeves that we're unaware of (WMD, nuclear weapons, cruise missiles, etc.)? How difficult would it be for Israel or the US to be kept blind about such things until it was too late? The answer is that it's far too easy, and given Iran's incessant rhetoric calling for Israel's destruction, one has to consider the possibility that they possess the means to carry out their genocidal designs (honor the threat).

A day after I noted that there was a story about how Israeli Arabs in Nazareth were worried about the fighting coming their way, their fears were fulfilled by the Hizbullah terrorists. Three people, including two children were killed and several others wounded when a katuysha rocket hit a home in the city.

Don Surber thinks that the calls for ceasefire are crazy. He's calling for unconditional surrender. He's right of course. Ceasefires do not provide even a veneer of peace. It's just a pregnant pause between intensely violent periods. A ceasefire only benefits Hizbullah and Hamas, not Israel, despite what the diplomats say or think.

Krauthammer seems to think that the situation is a golden opportunity, not a disaster. Ed Morrissey agrees.

AJ Strata wonders if Hizbullah is activating cells in the US to carry out attacks here. So does Michelle Malkin. Good question. We might have a better idea if our eyes and ears weren't being muffled by the NYT and other papers who blabbed about our capabilities and undermined our information gathering ability.

All Things Beautiful tackles the anti-Bush hysteria from Juan Cole and the Left in general. Flopping Aces sees the Left wants Israel's defeat. I concur. There really does seem to be a disconnect between reality and the Left over the events in the Middle East right now. The Left condemns Israel's right to defend itself against terrorist attacks, frets over how Israel responds - attempting a Goldilocks approach that borders on the insane if those on the Left permit Israel the opportunity to defend itself (see also Richard Cohen), don't see a problem with puffing up the terrorists (see Greenwald and Joao Silva) and otherwise pins the blame on all world events on President Bush despite the fact that Iran and Syria (mostly Iran) are trying to precipitate a conflict of epic proportions.

Others blogging the conflict and related issues: Partisan Times, Counterterrorism Blog, Defense Tech, The Real Ugly American, Blue Crab Boulevard.

Assad is calling on a ceasefire. That should give you some idea of just how badly Hizbullah has been mauled when Assad opens his yapper. Ditto for Ahmadinejad, who made similar demands yesterday.

Nazereth residents complain that they weren't warned before the rockets started falling on the city, killing three and wounded 37 others.

Israel stopped another suicide bomber before he could kill Israelis. However, there's an ongoing threat that a Hizbullah cell was approaching the Israeli border although the Jpost banner says that they've been intercepted.

Stop the ACLU has more background on Hizbullah and its background.

Others blogging: Greg Tinti and James Joyner at Outside the Beltway, Sister Toldjah, and Atlas Shrugs.

Rich Lowry makes the following observation:
The sense is that the Lebanese government is happy to see Israel pound Hezbollah, but can't say it out loud. How well Israel manages to do that is a matter of timing. Kofi Annan is going to be back to New York from Europe soon and turning up the tempature even higher on the calls for a cease-fire and an international force. The U.S. can resist them, but the clock is definitely ticking and there's a sense that Israel needs to pick up the pace. This is its window, but it's closing. Meanwhile, it sounds as though the timing on Condi's trip is still officially up in the air, although there could be an annoucement soon—with perhaps Sunday as the day. Personally, I think its a huge mistake for her to go there until we definitely want Israel to stop (we went on at length about this in our editorial today ). Otherwise, she's going to come back empty-handed and it will play as another Bush administration diplomatic set-back. And if we really want Israel to stop, we can just tell them—a phone call will suffice.
We might be able to persuade the Israelis to stop going after Hizbullah, but who or what is going to force Hizbullah to stop raining down missiles on Israel? Harsh language?

The IAF staged a major raid into Beirut, dropping numerous bunker busters in the hope of getting Nasrallah and other Hizbullah leaders. Dozens of planes were involved. It appears that they were unsuccessful, although Israeli intelligence has discovered that Hizbullah was busy with the six years absence of Israeli forces in South Lebanon building launch sites in residential buildings. Once again, Hizbullah is purposefully placing assets in civilian areas to maximize casualties upon discovery by the Israelis.

Israeli troops are also skirmishing with Hizbullah just inside Lebanon. And the Israelis ordered a closure of Gaza and the West Bank through the end of the week based on intel that the Islamic terrorists were planning suicide bombings inside Israel.

The US is asking other Arab countries to pressure Syria and Iran to exert their influence over Hizbullah and Hamas.

Syria tells UN negotiator Roed Larson that he's not welcome in Damascus. Now, isn't that funny considering that Syria was calling for a ceasefire just a few hours ago. Now they're not going to work with the guy who is there on behalf of the UN to make a ceasefire happen? Curious.

Others blogging: From Beirut to the Beltway, Vital Perspective, Assorted Babble, Texas Rainmaker, Jeff Goldstein (and in a lighter moment as well), The Jawa Report (now banned in India!?! [ed: you've got to be kidding - with all the jihadis running around beheading folks and killing people, banning a blogger who shows this ideology for what it is makes no sense whatsoever])

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