Friday, July 28, 2006

Diplomacy and the Hounds of Hell, Part XI

The senior Iranian in Damascus says that he's sure that Hizbullah will win. Would that be because you're continuing to supply Hizbullah with rockets, missiles, mortars, and targeting information? Or, more likely, simply wishful thinking and hoping that the world will rein in Israel before Hizbullah is nothing but a bad memory. Hizbullah says that they'll fight Israel in South Lebanon villages. Welcome to reality; you're already fighting Israel in those villages, and you keep getting killed in large numbers - although most are attributed to civilian casualties.

In a departure from the usual [ed: there you go with the sarcasm], Chirac says that he's going to press the UN Security Council for a ceasefire resolution, as are five Muslim nations. Never mind that a ceasefire without the disarmament of Hizbullah is a tactical and strategic win for the terrorist organization, any end to the hostilities must come when Hizbullah has been defeated.

Secretary of State Rice isn't going to put any timetable on returning to the Middle East to try and work out a ceasefire. Good on her. Diplomats are good for jawboning, but this conflict is not going to be decided by the diplomats. The rules of the game have changed. There is some recognition that Hizbullah has to be defeated, but the idea that a ceasefire is going to get the job done is wishful thinking on the part of those same diplomats who are thinking that the UN is the route to salvation.

The UN is complicit in this whole mess, with the abject failure of the UNIFIL to disarm Hizbullah and secure the Israel/Lebanon border. Israel refuses to let the UN be a part of any peacekeeping force. Ed Morrissey has the details. Ed also notes that the UN and Kofi Annan knew about Hizbullah's plans to use UNIFIL bases as shields for their terror operations and yet did nothing to stop it.

Israeli airstrikes are pounding the Bek'aa Valley. Other airstrikes eliminated Hizbullah missile command in Tyre, which is responsible for the ongoing rocket attacks against Haifa.

And why is the opinion of Arabs around the world supposedly turning in favor of Hizbullah?
Now, with hundreds of Lebanese dead and Hezbollah holding out against the vaunted Israeli military for more than two weeks, the tide of public opinion across the Arab world is surging behind the organization, transforming the Shiite group’s leader, Sheik Hassan Nasrallah, into a folk hero and forcing a change in official statements.

The Saudi royal family and King Abdullah II of Jordan, who were initially more worried about the rising power of Shiite Iran, Hezbollah’s main sponsor, are scrambling to distance themselves from Washington.

An outpouring of newspaper columns, cartoons, blogs and public poetry readings have showered praise on Hezbollah while attacking the United States and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice for trumpeting American plans for a “new Middle East” that they say has led only to violence and repression.

Even Al Qaeda, run by violent Sunni Muslim extremists normally hostile to all Shiites, has gotten into the act, with its deputy leader, Ayman al-Zawahri, releasing a taped message saying that through its fighting in Iraq, his organization was also trying to liberate Palestine.
Where to start with this mess. Al Qaeda is trying to stay relevant and therefore is using the situation in Lebanon to claim that it is still around. Never mind that their operational and organizational capabilities are severely degraded (despite the fancy studio-like setting of the latest tape), they're worried that they're being overshadowed by Hizbullah (a Shi'ite Islamist movement.

The number of so-called civilian casualties has something to do with this. No one knows exactly how many civilians were killed in Lebanon thus far - Hizbullah blends into civilian populations and a terrorist that isn't holding a gun looks just like the civilian in the apartment next door. For all we know, the overwhelming majority of casualties in Lebanon are terrorists, and Hizbullah knows that they're getting pasted.

Most Arab regimes are uncomfortable with the fact of rooting for Israel to eliminate the Islamist threat coming from Iran - Hizbullah has Iranian backing (which Iran claims isn't true and attempts to spin the question so as to ask why the US supports Israel) after all and nearly everyone recognizes that this crisis is being spurred on by the mad mullahs and Ahmadinejad in Tehran. With the majority of the Muslims around the world being Sunni, this has those countries rethinking their positions on the Arab Israeli conflict and how they're going to deal with the threat of Iran. While they certainly appreciate Israel keeping Iran in check, they've got to burnish their own image for fear of their own Sunni Islamists taking care of business against their regimes.

And to those who want to say I told you so, claiming that Hizbullah has prepared for this moment and therefore the change in world opinion should have been expected because of the civilian casualties - that is no excuse for letting Hizbullah continue to exist to threaten Israelis. For all the talk about Lebanese casaulties let us not forget the following:

1) More than 1 million Israelis are living in bunkers and bomb shelters because of the thousands of rockets and mortars fired into Israel by Hizbullah and Hamas in just the past three weeks. Before that time, hundreds more were launched into Israel but no response by Israel was made which led Hizbullah to believe that they could take more severe actions against Israel without any fear of serious reprisal.

2) More than 300,000 Israelis are now refugees within their own country. Most are from the Northern Israel communities being shelled by Hizbullah and they've relocated to areas they deem out of the range of most of the missiles being fired by Hizbullah.

Those actions cannot be allowed to continue. Hizbullah may have dug into South Lebanon and turned it into their own version of the Iron Triangle (Cu Chi), and are planning to wage a guerilla war against Israel, but Israel cannot permit this situation to continue. There will be heavy casualties, but unless someone else is going to eliminate Hizbullah's capacity to kill Israelis (anyone see any hands waiving to do that job? no I didn't think so), this fighting will continue.

Israel's callup of 30,000 reserves shows that they're in this fight for the duration.

Bloggers to check in with for daily updates are Blue Crab Boulevard, Carl in Jerusalem, Israellycool, Dave Bender, Meryl Yourish, Euphoric Reality, Pajamas Media, Hot Air, Jameel at the Muqata, Greetings from the French Hill, R'Lazer, and Live from an Israeli Bunker. Check back with them regularly for updates.

Afula has come under Hizbullah rocket attack. However, the rockets fired appear to be a different type than others fired into Israel. Rockets keep getting fired at Haifa, despite the attacks on Hizbullah targets in Lebanon.

The UN seems to have finally wised up and UNIFIL observers are being withdrawn from the border. What took them so long? It's not like they didn't see this fighting coming based on the years of preparation by Hizbullah and then the hasty preparations after Israel began its airstrikes against Hizbullah targets in Lebanon. And Hizbullah was using UNIFIL positions as cover for their operations against Israel.

John Podhoretz wonders if Israel is too nice to win against Hizbullah. I was making a similar argument earlier in the week. Ralph Peters chastizes the Israeli leadership for not following through and destroying Hizbullah - anything less than eliminating the group will result in the propaganda that Hizbullah and the Arab world crave. They're unconcerned with facts - it is the mythos that counts. Bint Jbeil will be immortalized by the Hizbullah faithful as a place where Israel paid the price for trying to deal with Hizbullah - not as a place where Hizbullah was eliminated completely. In sum, he says strength of will will win the fight and Israel must do more than commit its forces piecemeal to the battlefield.

The Israelis have identified the new missiles fired by Hizbullah as the Fajr-5 (though the Hizbullah are calling it the Khaibar-1), which is of Iranian origin. The rockets contain 100kg of explosives. The rockets that hit Afula travelled more than 70km, which makes them the longest range weapons fired into Israel to date. While the launcher was destroyed by Israeli airstrikes, it is unknown how many others are in Hizbullah's arsenal.

What this also shows is that Israel's intent to carve out a security corridor along the border only 1-2km in depth is insufficient to prevent rocket attacks. Even driving to the Litani River is insufficient to protect Northern Israel from these attacks. Israel must do more to interdict the resupply routes from Syria. Only then can Israel gain a handle on the situation and eliminate the Hizbullah arsenals and caches killing as many Hizbullah terrorists as possible. That means engaging in ground warfare, which Israel's leadership must not shy away from despite the possibility of heavy casualties. Failure simply is not an option for Israel here, and half measures will convey precisely the wrong signals to the terrorists and their sycophants.

Meanwhile, why should anyone listen to Warren Christopher? He's been wrong on how to deal with the Middle East too many times to count that there's no reason to take him seriously - yet he's calling for Israel to essentially cave in to the terrorists. He calls it a ceasefire, but is there any reason to believe that Hizbullah will adhere to the terms? Hey, it's all for peace, but Israel will be in pieces as a result.

The Israeli hospital in Nayariha was hit by a Hizbullah rocket. No one was injured, but there was some light damage to the top floor. Fighting continues in Bint Jbeil.

The Weekly Standard has an interesting post that counters the conventional wisdom that al Qaeda and Hizbullah are rivals and would not work together. I think that's stretching things a bit, as they are rivals - their leaders have egos that need stroking, but they are willing to fight the same cause. Bill Roggio wonders if Israel will pay the cost for genuine victory, echoing the ruminations by Podhoretz and Peters. Kicking this problem down the road will not solve anything - it only gives Hizbullah the ability to further consolidate its power and prestige in the Middle East as well as prepare for the next round of fighting with Israel. That's why a ceasefire is such an incredibly bad idea.

Charles Krauthammer lays down a gauntlet of his own - calling the judgment being passed on the fighting as living in an Orwellian moral universe. Up is down. Right is wrong. Black is white. And Israel can do no right, even if it includes defending itself against genocidal terrorists and their state sponsors. Joe Biden follows Warren Christopher down the rose-colored path claiming that one needs to rely upon diplomacy. Diplomacy with whom? Terrorists? Nice. What will providing cease fires to terrorists will accomplish? The absence of live fire, which you take to mean peace, is in reality a lull in the long war against Israel's existence. It does nothing except permit the terrorists to rearm and reequip for the next phase in the war.

There are now reports that Nasrallah is in the Iranian embassy in Beirut. If true, that undermines the Iranian statements that they're not providing assistance to Hizbullah.

There seems to be quite a bit of resistance to the idea that changing the situation in the Middle East is a good idea. I mean, look how swimmingly well things have been since the end of World War I. That the Bush Administration is trying to tackle the issue instead of punting it down the road shows that he recognizes that the threats posed by the Islamists is an important distinction between him and his predecessors. No amount of financial aid will eliminate the ideology that portrays Islam as the superior religion that will come to dominate the world. It will not salve the wound of having a liberal Western democracy in the heart of the Middle East - Israel, nor does it accept the notion of a democratic Lebanon or Iraq. Such things cannot stand.

Instapundit notes a truism:
The difference is that Israel causes civilian casualties when it misses its targets, Hezbollah causes civilian casualties when it hits its targets.
That sums it up, doesn't it. Israel goes out of its way to avoid hitting civilian targets. Hizbullah purposefully attacks hospitals, schools, residential complexes. Hizbullah hides its assets among residential buildings, schools, mosques, and other civilian facilities. And the odd UNIFIL outpost.

Charles at LGF has a posting showing the extent of the Israeli targeting in Beirut, which dispels much of the overheated rhetoric from Hizbullah and its mouthpieces in Lebanon about how the Israelis are levelling the city. Far from levelling the city, Israel has purposefully avoided doing just that. They've specifically targeted a limited area, which undermines the effectiveness of their air campaign because Hizbullah is so firmly entrenched in civilian areas - that Hizbullah knows it has effectively used human shields to prevent a full Israeli response.

John Barry at Newsweek seems to think that Israel is doomed to fail because it's blinded by nationalism. Umm. How should I phrase this delicately. Israel's existence is at stake because genocidal terrorists and their state sponsors want to eliminate Israel and you think that Israel fighting back is making the situation worse? Worse for who? A million Israelis are under the gun being fired upon by Hizbullah on a daily basis and are sitting in bomb shelters and bunkers if they haven't joined the hundreds of thousands of other Israelis who have fled south to get out of the missile range. This statement suggests just how flawed Barry's logic is:
But Kissinger hadn’t reckoned on one figure in the talks: Israel’s leader, Golda Meir. She simply could not believe that Sadat and Assad were serious. Instead, she behaved as if Israel’s only hope of security lay in every inch of captured real estate it could keep. So Kissinger’s 1974 shuttle, seeking disengagement on the Golan Heights, descended into near farcical haggling over strips of barren soil of no conceivable military value. Kissinger got a deal, but only a minimal one.
Israel recognized then, as it does now, that missiles fired into Israel will cause damage to Israeli towns and cities. Keeping those missiles as far away from those cities and towns has strategic and tactical value. Hizbullah capitalized on Israel's withdrawal from South Lebanon by moving all their rockets inside the former security zone, and now fire their rockets mercilessly down on Israelis.

Israel's security situation from 1983 to 2000 saw its military in near constant fighting with Hizbullah in South Lebanon. There were occasional attacks into Israel, but the fighting was contained to South Lebanon. From 2000 forward, Hizbullah began attacking Israel regularly from South Lebanon. While the disengagement from Lebanon provided Israel relief from the constant military operations, they gave up land - a physical barrier that make it difficult for Hizbullah to fire its arsenal into Israel, which Barry thinks had no value, but now shows the worth of even land with 'no military value.'

Others blogging the conflict: Blue Crab Boulevard, Meryl Yourish, The Sundries Shack, Outside the Beltway, Wizbang, The Jawa Report, Israpundit, discarded lies, and Confederate Yankee.

Alexandra at All Things Beautiful takes the UN down another notch. Michael at the Moderate Voice notes that Israel still has the moral high ground, regardless of what the media says. Chad Evans wonders where Nasrallah is. Is he in Damascus or the Iranian embassy in Beirut. Good question. No one seems to know for sure.

Bush and Blair are saying that they support a multinational force in Lebanon. Couple of questions that remain unanswered - who will supply the troops, who will tell Hizbullah to lay down its arms and withdraw from the affected areas, and will it secure the release of the Israeli soldiers they took?
Bush said he planned to appeal to the United Nations "for a Chapter 7 resolution setting out a clear framework for cessation of hostilities on an urgent basis, and mandating the multinational force."

British diplomats have been talking about a cease-fire followed by deployment of an international border force, CNN's Robin Oakley reported. Then a second stage would begin, involving a larger border force that would also help with disarming Hezbollah and establishing a greater role for Lebanese government forces.

Friday's Washington meeting follows an Italian conference of key Middle East decision-makers that failed to agree on an immediate cease-fire as the United States, backed by Britain, insisted any halt to violence should be linked to a wider effort to disarm Hezbollah. (Full story)

A senior U.N. diplomat has described the mood at those talks as somber. He said all the parties but the United States wanted an immediate cessation of fighting to make room for more negotiations and humanitarian aid.

Rice argued that taking such an approach would leave Hezbollah in place and armed with rockets.
Once again, we're witnessing diplomats far more concerned with process than facts. They want ceasefires so that they can claim that there isn't anyone getting hit with ordnance, but disregard the fact that Hizbullah will use this as a pregnant pause in their genocidal campaign to kill Israelis at all costs - even the destruction of Lebanon. There's absolutely no evidence to suggest that Hizbullah would ever accept disarmament, other than in the wishful thinking of diplomats. Their words and deeds speak only of death and destruction for the West and Israel.

The US recognizes that the situation cannot return to the status quo ante. This isn't about world opinion, despite how the diplomats want to play this. This is about Israel's survival and eliminating a threat to not only Israel, but Lebanon and the rest of the world.

Posted to the following: Basil's Blog, Rodeo of the Mind, Jo's Cafe, bRight and Early, and TMH Bacon Bits.

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