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Incompetent Ehud Olmert?:

Word from Israel, from both the English-language media and my relatives there, is that folks are very unhappy with various aspects of the cease-fire deal that the U.N. Security Council has just passed, to wit (I haven't seen the final version of the resolution, but this is what I picked up from the media):

(1) The operative U.N. resolution before now, still in force, required all Lebanese armed factions to disarm. The new resolution does not require the Party of God (Hezbollah) to disarm, except below the Litani River.

(2) The new resoultion does not call for the immediate release of the kidnapped soldiers.

(3) The new resolution states that the Shaaba Farms controversy, which provided the Party of God with a pretext to fight Israel by claiming Israel was "occupying" Lebanese land, is to be resolved soon. The old resolution confirmed that Israel had pulled out completely from Lebanon, because according to the U.N. Shaaba Farms, captured from Syria in 1967, was part of Syria, not Lebanon.

(4) The Israeli government had sworn it would not accept U.N. peacekeepers to separate itself from the Party of God. The U.N. itself is incredibly hostile to Israel, and U.N. peacekeepers on Israel's borders have proven themselves to at best be ineffective, and at worst in league with Israel's enemies. The new resolution provides only for U.N. peacekeepers, albeit with some enhanced powers (which they can, theoretically, use as much against Israel as against the Party of God. I wouldn't wager on the more likely target.)

(5) The U.N. resolution calls for the Party of God's fighters to withdraw behind the Litani River. But given that the Party's fighters are nonuniformed and most have day jobs, how can this possibly be enforced?

(6) The resolution puts the issue of Lebanese prisoners in Israel, another POG pretext, and the most prominent of whom are brutal terrorist murderers, on the table.

(7) Is the U.N. and/or the Lebanese government really going to stop Iran and Syria from resupplying the Party of God? Hard to imagine.

All of this seems like strong evidence that the Olmert government is incompetent. So many lives lost, so many wounded, so many displaced, so much political capital used, all for a diplomatic "solution" that seems very likely to lead to another war rather soon, except that U.N. enhanced peacekeepers will be there to interfere with Israel's freedom to act.

But perhaps Olmert has one of two tricks up his sleeve: (1) Once the U.N. resolution is passed and enforced, the Lebanese government will face severe U.S. and French pressure to sign a peace treaty with Israel, which would be a huge blow to the Party of God/Syria/Iran axis; or (2) The U.S. has promised Israel that it will not allow Iran to get nukes, but the price of this is having to agree to this resolution, to retain French support for pressure on, and potentially military action against, Iran.

Perhaps. But meanwhile, the Olmert government looks way beyond its depth, having launched a war [yes, the Party of God provoked it, and Israel had every moral right to escalate] to "finish off" the Party of God that it was not prepared militarily, psychologically, or diplomatically to fully execute.

[I should add that the fact that the Olmert government announced its military moves in advance, giving the Party of God notice to prepare for them, that the squabbling at extremely important and secret cabinet meetings was leaked all over the media, that leading generals were openly questioning the government's strategy, and various politicos were making important public pronouncements well outside their authority (in what other country does the "Justice Minister" announce the government's military strategy?), hardly has created an aura of competence around the government.]

UPDATE: Here is the text of the resolution. I'm running out for the day, but a quick looks suggests that the resolution does call on the Party of God to disarm entirely, but that U.N. forces will only help enforce disarmament below the Litani River. And one more quick note, I've mostly refrained from commenting on Olmert's military strategy; as a law professor, I can speculate on these things, but I don't really know anything about them, nor do I have access to the kind of information that Olmert does. But it did strike me from my ignorant vantage point that going around Party of God fortifications and surrounding from the North made more sense than directly attacking them from the South. According to this interesting article, the IDF did have such a strategy (and more) in mind but it was vetoed by Olmert. Also of interest: the claim that the U.S. gave Israel the go-ahead to go after Syria, even at the potential risk (and potential payoff) of a face-off with Iran, but Olmert rejected this.

FURTHER UPDATE: The IDF is FINALLY airlifting soldiers behind Party of God lines. It is now racing against time to pull a military victory out of what, at best, was a diplomatic draw, if not defeat.

Related Posts (on one page):

  1. More Evidence of Israeli Government Incompetence:
  2. Incompetent Ehud Olmert?:
Humble Law Student (mail):
I share your fears. There may be some backroom deals that make the deal more palatable. But as to the known terms of the ceasefire - its capitulation.

Hezbollah wins.
8.12.2006 12:14am
Humble Law Student (mail):
To add: The terms really are f-ing ridiculous. How can any neutral party justify a ceasefire in which the aggressor party loses militarily, but wins diplomatically?

But maybe that's the problem - there are no neutral parties in the UN>
8.12.2006 12:16am
JunkYardLawDog (mail):
...in what other country does the "Justice Minister" announce the government's military strategy.....


Atleast you don't have justices on the supreme court trying to play commander in chief and decide on detention and interrogation policies for the enemy that are well beyond their natural scope of powers and infinitely beyond their expertise and experience.

Based upon the points you raise it doesn't seem like the good deal for Israel being portrayed in the media. Of course this resolution in large part was modified and changed by the French once again stabbing the USA in the back.

Says the "Dog"
8.12.2006 12:26am
Tom952 (mail):
The negotiated cease-fire agreement concept has no legitimacy. If Hizbollah stops attacking Israel, the IDF will go home eventually. If Hizbollah continues to attack Israel, no agreement is going to stop Israel from defending itself. Has anyone heard Hisbollah call for peace and prosperity?

What about interdicting Hizbollah's supply lines? What about destroying the rocket factories? What about intercepting Hizbolla's money? I don't read anything in the proposed agreement addressing those issues.

Then, there is the mythical "U. N. Peacekeeping Farce". Does anyone believe the U. N. can field a force to control Hizbollah?

There is no basis for a cease fire agreement until Hizbollah renounces the goal of destroying Israel. Cease fire agreements have only allowed the Arabs intent on destroying Israel to regroup, rearm, and retrain.
8.12.2006 12:39am
Tom Holsinger (mail):
If the cease-fire is actually implemented, which is still iffy, it will be a disastrous defeat for Israel and us. The second sentence of the Wikepedia entry for Benjamin Netanyahu already states:
"After the mishandling of the current conflict against Hezbollah by Prime Minister Olmert, it is widely anticipated that a no-confidence vote will lead to new elections with Netanyahu becoming the next Prime Minister of Israel."
8.12.2006 12:49am
Erasmussimo:
David, could you offer some substantion for this claim you make in item #4:

...U.N. peacekeepers on Israel's borders have proven themselves to at best be ineffective, and at worst in league with Israel's enemies.

I can agree with the "ineffective" part, but I curious to see some evidence that the UN peacekeepers are in league with Hezbollah.
8.12.2006 12:52am
Tom Holsinger (mail):
Erasmussimo:

The UN peacekeepers in Lebanon had a practice for years of broadcasting their observations of Israeli movements over an unsecured radio networks so Hezbollah and the Iranians could listen in. This is why Israel attacked one or more UN outposts last month - that is unacceptable during active operations. And it worked - the UN immediately stopped this game.

War is not beanbag.
8.12.2006 12:56am
Justin (mail):
"Perhaps. But meanwhile, the Olmert government looks way beyond its depth, having launched a war [yes, the Party of God provoked it, and Israel had every moral right to escalate] to "finish off" the Party of God that it was not prepared militarily, psychologically, or diplomatically to fully execute."

Yes, and you probably owe an apology to the 500 people on this website who thought this obvious only for you to criticize them without substance.
8.12.2006 1:10am
Erasmussimo:
Tom, this doesn't strike me as evidence of UN peacekeepers being in league with Hezbollah. There are lots of explanations that do not require conspiracy hypotheses. Were the UN peacekeepers equipped with secure radio networks? Had Israel protested these actions? Had the UN peacekeepers offered any explanations for their broadcasting in clear? Were the UN peacekeepers in privileged positions unavailable to Hezbollah observers, and therefore able to obtain information unavailable to Hezbollah?

Absent answers to such questions, the statement as it stands reads more like conspiracy theory than objective analysis.
8.12.2006 1:13am
Lev:
I have to say, well I don't have to - this is a voluntary blog commentary rather than a compulsory one....anyway....I have been trying to figure out just WTF Israel has been doing, or trying to do, or feeling like what it might like to do or not do for the past month.

This make sense out of the whole thing, for what it's worth:

http://web.israelinsider.com/Articles/Politics/9116.htm
8.12.2006 1:33am
Tom Holsinger (mail):
Erasmussimo:

Perhaps things change when the shooting starts. That might make a difference.

Unless you are being passive-aggressive.
8.12.2006 1:56am
massachusetts republican (mail) (www):
Skaaaaruuuu the UN! Destroy the terrorist. crush hezbullony and ignore tha arab lies and fake pleads of peace. Israel must always be the #1 badass on the block.
8.12.2006 2:39am
A. Zarkov (mail):
At least at first glance, this looks like a major defeat for Israel. You would at least think they would have gotten an immediate release of their soldiers. They are going to end up with the status quo ante. The Bush administration looks ridiculous, now endorsing the very thing it first rejected. The incompetent, irrelevant and immaterial UN gets to play a major role. The Party of God looks victorious. They appear to have held their own against the IDF, and appearance counts in this game.

Looking at the big picture we see the western world continues in its retreat from aggressive Islam. It's like watching a boxing match where one boxer observes the Marquis of Queensbury Rules, and the other boxer breaks every rule in the book. Of course eventually the tide will change when people start to get really scared. Then there will be much suffering. Remember we put American Japanese in detention camps; we even put American Germans in camps. While technology changes people don't. They will continue to behave as they always have.
8.12.2006 3:09am
A. Zarkov (mail):
Shorter version of dog: be a rational classifier. See any book on statistical decision theory or the book "The Theory of Optimal Searches." But we still have a major problem at airports. We don't x-ray people. We can't find a hidden ceramic knife, or certain explosive components. It's a little like the gun control approach to crime where the focus is one the weapon and not the person who uses the weapon. We need to do what El Al does.
8.12.2006 3:34am
DtI:
A. Zarkov. You seem to think that the war is inevitable and cannot be postponed. The truth is the war is not inevitable. The truth is your belief and the belief of those like you in its inevitability is the only this which makes it happen.
8.12.2006 4:22am
DavidBernstein (mail):
Justin, I assume you are being facetious, in that the debate I had with commentors was over whether Israel's action were "disproportionate" or immoral, not whether I had faith that the gov't was executing the war competently, would see things through properly to the end, or, for that matter, whether it would have been a better strategy, to, e.g., threaten Syria, as I mentioned as a possibility more than once.
8.12.2006 4:55am
DavidBernstein (mail):
Post of 7/23: "I don't want to confuse different issues: just because Israel's actions to wipe out Hezbollah are perfectly legitimate doesn't mean(a) they are wise; or (b) they were well thought out, even if they turn out to be wise."
8.12.2006 5:06am
James968 (mail):
The US should have just abstained. We should have said something to the effect: We sill not support this farce, but if the other members of the Security Council wishfully pass something like this, we will not oppose it.

By voting for it, we endorsed it and when it fails, it the blame will fall partially o the US and Britain.

The BBC has been saying "The US, UK and France are working on details of cease fire" . That statement completely put the onus on the UK-US-France for a cease fire, and completely ignored the main groups responsible for what is happening the viability of any peace deal (Hezbollah Syria, Iran and to a less extent Israel).
8.12.2006 5:39am
guest:
I give you a hard time, and I should register for this site at some point, but even a drunk will sometimes find keys under the lamppost. Olmert seems incompetent, and this is a terrible outcome.
8.12.2006 5:54am
Marc Gersen (mail) (www):
The UN had a video tape that showed information about the last Hizbullah kidnapping. They first denied such a tape existed, but after enough leaks, they then announced that they were refusing to show the tape, due to neutrality between the Israelis and Hezbollah. Ultimately they released a heavily censored version. Kofi Annan addressed the matter a few times.
8.12.2006 6:27am
Michael B (mail):
8.12.2006 9:09am
SG:
DtI:


A. Zarkov. You seem to think that the war is inevitable and cannot be postponed. The truth is the war is not inevitable. The truth is your belief and the belief of those like you in its inevitability is the only this which makes it happen.


What arrogance and ignorance. The other side gets a vote too.

Or do you hold Churchill responsible for WWII?
8.12.2006 9:26am
Bottomfish (mail):
"OP14. Calls upon the government of Lebanon to secure its borders and other entry points to prevent the entry in Lebanon without its consent of arms or related materiel and requests UNIFIL as authorized in paragraph 11 to assist the government of Lebanon at its request;"

Of course there is no use in calling on the government of Lebanon to prevent the entry of arms if the government does consent to such entry. It's hard to see how the Hezbollah materiel could have gotten into Lebanon any other way.
8.12.2006 9:33am
Justin (mail):
DB,

Yes, and you got correctly lambasted by many for saying that you cannot divorce the practical and the moral - that if you go ahead indiscriminately killing people for goals that are unachievable, this is immoral, and the "unachievable" portion of the debate is definitely a consideration in the moral question.
8.12.2006 10:19am
Chris Lawrence (mail) (www):
"Of course there is no use in calling on the government of Lebanon to prevent the entry of arms if the government does consent to such entry. It's hard to see how the Hezbollah materiel could have gotten into Lebanon any other way."

Let's try some substitutions here:

"Of course there is no use in calling on the government of the United States to prevent the entry of immigrants if the government does not consent to such entry. It is hard to see how illegal immigrants could have gotten into the United States any other way."

Put another way, even the most effective states in the world have difficulty controlling their own borders. Lebanon is not a state that most people would characterize as having strong control over its own territory.
8.12.2006 10:22am
SG:
Justin:

The fact that the goals were not achieved does not mean they were unacheivable.
8.12.2006 10:23am
Brett Bellmore:

Put another way, even the most effective states in the world have difficulty controlling their own borders.


Bad example; We don't have trouble controlling our borders, we have a political elite that wants open borders, and a populace that wants closed borders, and so the political elite makes a show of "trying" to close the border, and failing. It's very easy to fail at doing something you don't want to succeed at.
8.12.2006 11:37am
Human, not just Jewish, rights (mail):
One other note. In my opinion, Zionist fantasies about being able to defeat Hezbollah, had they just attacked from the north, are laughable.
8.12.2006 11:55am
Joel B. (mail):
This whole episode certainly seems as though it could strengthen the hand of Likud, resulting in the shortest demise of a political party ever. The only problem I see, is how do they get to 60 votes for a no-confidence action in the Knesset. As long as Labor, Kadima (Backward apparently), and the Pensioner's party (is there a party that less deserves to exist? one that exists pretty much to just redistribute wealth to old people, one that will pretty much disappear now that Israelis are facing up against an existential threat) hold together it seems as though getting to 60 would be tough.
8.12.2006 12:09pm
Anderson (mail) (www):
All of this seems like strong evidence that the Olmert government is incompetent.

Yes, for those who didn't have that part figured out when Israel began bombing Beirut because a couple of its soldiers got kidnapped.

DB will need quite a few carbons for his written apology. Shall we hold our collective breaths? Perhaps not.
8.12.2006 12:15pm
Humble Law Student (mail):
Human,

You must be a joke right? Only a jokester could play up such a vile caricature of a human.

"Learn technology"? - You don't "learn technology." It is something that is developed, advanced, etc.

I hate to break it to you, but the "Arabs" didn't devastate Israel - they damaged one ship, took out a few tanks (which by the way were pulled out and mostly repaired), and the rockets are more of terror weapons (they can't damage Israel much more than the psychological effects).

Technologically speaking the Arabs (mostly) are at a more relative disadvantage today compared to Israel than ever before. In the wars of 48, 67, and 73, the Arab nations had general technological parity if not superiority to Israeli weapons. The difference was the tactics and supreme will of these "zionists".

Further, Arab "science" has hardly revived. How many patents has the Arab world produced? How many scholarly books? Practically none. On the other hand, Israel has produced its fair share of technological advances.

The Arabs actually haven't really even produced anything technological. The A-Bomb by the Iranians doesn't count. Why? The Iranians are Persian, not Arab. Either way, you are hopelessly ignorant.

Finally, how does one have a "racist face"? Faces can be sad, angry, or happy, but racist? I think not. The only way a face can be racist is if one comports certain qualities to a face based upon racial characteristics - in which case the only racist, is you!
8.12.2006 12:19pm
llamasex (mail) (www):
Its looks like we have a pattern forming, the Hawks call for military action against terrorism. Thinking bombs and bullets are the answer to all their problems. Then when things fall apart they blame the government's handling of the war. Never admitting that the whole idea was flawed in the first place.
8.12.2006 12:19pm
Humble Law Student (mail):
Anderson,

I have to admit that in retrospect this action by Israel was wrong. It is possible for me to justify the losses of civilians on both sides if it leads to a politicial solution entailing certain goals: dissolution of Hezbollah, etc. On the other hand, the great loss of life on both sides leads to what... I feel that my support has been wasted for nothing.
8.12.2006 12:23pm
SG:
llamasex:

So, what's the correct response. The whole world is anxiously awaiting?

Seriously, we've seen neogitating tried (Oslo accords) and that failed. We've seen unilateral concessions (Lebanon/Gaza) tried and that failed. And we've seen half-hearted attempts at military action tried (the current situation) and that failed. So what's the answer?
8.12.2006 12:24pm
Humble Law Student (mail):
llamasex,

We don't think bombs and bullets are the answer for all the problems. Further, just because something fails, it doesn't mean the whole idea was flawed in the first place.

If you assume peace is the answer to everything, does an attack prove that your whole idea of peace was flawed in the first place? No, not necessarily.

Your statement shows nothing.
8.12.2006 12:26pm
SG:
FWIW, I don't believe that war has been given a real chance yet. By that, I mean a military conflict that continues until one side is has been defeated.

Instead all we get are half measures, ceasefires, and unenforceed UN declarations. And the misery is perpertuated for generations.

Wars that end without defeat are wars that haven't ended. Compare Japan and North Korea.
8.12.2006 12:35pm
Humble Law Student (mail):
SG,

Does this capture your sentiment?

" In warfare, those unwilling to pay the butcher's bill up front pay it with compound interest in the end. "
8.12.2006 12:39pm
Kevin L. Connors (mail) (www):
Tom952:

What about interdicting Hizbollah's supply lines? What about destroying the rocket factories? What about intercepting Hizbolla's money? I don't read anything in the proposed agreement addressing those issues.

As Israel sees it, all that is covered under the "self-defense" clause in the resolution.

Erasmussimo, I could be wrong, but it seems to me that you are stumbling back into idiocy here. The litany of credible charges against UN peacekeeping and refugee efforts in the Middle East has been covered, albeit piecemeal, on this very blog. during your stay here. So, to claim ignorance at this point would be either disingenuous or idiotic.

If someone can copy/paste the entire litany here, for the benefit of Erasmussimo, and the other deniers. I would appreciate it. But I have to go out for a few hours.
8.12.2006 12:48pm
llamasex (mail) (www):
The answer, well I think it depends on the problem. In Lebanon, its clear war was the wrong idea. How about this off the top of my head Pro active kindness. Hezbollah's community support comes from the populace they give social services to. How about Israel out does them in that area. Israel sends in a flood of doctors and aid workers and takes the legs out from under them. The war has turned even the Lebanese christians against Israel. Now those aid workers would be attacked I'm sure of it, but this would be Hezbollah attacking the community not fighting Israel who is attacking the community.

Once Hezbollah's local support dries up removing them would be much easier.

I don't think this can be applied to Gaza or anywhere else.
8.12.2006 12:50pm
Human, not just Jewish, rights (mail):
Humble,

I actually know about military technology.

The Arabs are far more advanced today. The biggest disadvantage in the prior wars was that their populations were largely illiterate. They could not even read or write. Think about that for a second, you were fighting people who couldn't read or write.

Their equipment was made up of obsolete and downgraded Russian garbage which they didn't really know how to operate. Literally every country which fought with Russian garbage was devastated in the late 20th century. This includes Vietnam which lost about 30 soldiers for each American soldier lost. They were easily overmatched by a literate and well equipped Israeli military.

The are largely literate, although amazingly they're still not near 100%. Half the countries (Egypt, Saudi Arabia and UAE) purchase the same high tech American equipment as Israel gets. Many countries have inferior large equipment (tanks, aircraft), but have changed their focus to advanced guerilla technology like the anti-tank missiles which destroyed an average of two Israeli tanks per day. Further, they now have Iran on their side, a country which was previously neutral (but really supported Israel.) Arabs don't publish many theoretical papers, but practical technology is rapidly spreading throughout their countries.

The worm has turned and it's not going back.

I'm heartened by the despair in yours and other Zionist voices. No better feeling in the world than seeing an oppressive racist country go down. Your ideology is being taught a lesson by the invincible forces of justice.

Peruse this Israeli (and vastly understated) account of tank losses, which are far more than a few.

http://www.israelnationalnews.com/news.php3?id=109793

The guy on the second picture is you.

http://www.thesun.co.uk/article/0,,2-2006370153,00.html
8.12.2006 12:51pm
Kevin L. Connors (mail) (www):
Oh, and David, I agree wholeheartedly with your original post: The resolution itself is quite disconcerting. But, as is so often the case, it could be that what is not being made public is far more important than the resolution itself.
8.12.2006 12:53pm
Erasmussimo:
A few random comments:

I still haven't gotten adequate substantiation for Mr. Bernstein's accusation that the UN force is in league with Hezbollah. The offered item that they were broadcasting their communications in clear is, absent explanatory details, without substance. I renew my request for substantiation of Mr. Bernstein's accusation.

There seems to be a general acknowledgement that Israel is losing this war. The acknowledgements of Israel's poor showing are neatly divided into two groups: 1) gleeful nyah-nyah-nyahs; 2) rueful complaints that the IDF should have used more force.

It's easy to dismiss the gleeful comments as vicious emotionalism. The complaints about the IDF pulling its punches, however, represent a more dangerous line of thinking. The gleeful comments are mere idle viciousness, but the latter thinking is what leads to even greater catastrophes.

Let's face reality here. The iron reality is that the entire world, with the exception of the USA and perhaps a few insignificant nations, deplores the Israeli policy. Defenders of Israeli policy (and I remind you, defenders of Israeli policy are not the only people who want to see a secure Israel in the Middle East) can insist on the moral rectitude of Israeli policy, but their arguments have not convinced the majority of people worldwide. If Israel were to implement the bloodthirsty policies of some of our commentators, worldwide condemnation would rise to such a level that it would express itself in serious diplomatic and economic repercussions for Israel. Israel could find itself in much the same position that Libya found itself after the Lockerbie bombing: isolated economically and diplomatically. Libya was able to hold out for a long time because its economy is small and does not rely heavily upon general trade. The Israeli economy is not so independent and trade sanctions will bring the Israeli economy to a parlous state much more quickly than they did with Libya.

When I first began participating in these discussions, I pointed out that Israel had no achievable war aims in this war, and therefore was doomed to ultimate failure. Like many others, I have been surprised by the resilience of Hezbollah resistance. However, even if Israel does succeed in its push to the Litani River, they will still have attained no strategically useful results. There's a strong moral here: using military force to lash out emotionally is foolish, wasteful, and ultimately counterproductive. Statecraft requires clear thinking and the establishment of plans that will lead to desirable results. In many ways, Israel's policy reminds me of that of Charles XII of Sweden: he won every battle but the last, and the sum of his life's work was utter failure. If Israel continues to pursue foolhardy policies, it will be destroyed.

Another comment: some of the defenders of Israeli policy arrogate to themselves the posture of defenders of the State of Israel. They accuse people like me of desiring the destruction of Israel and the genocide of the Jewish people. This is nonsense. I argue that those who urge foolish policies are a great danger to Israel; their foolishness could well cost Israel its existence. I would prefer that Israel pursue policies that give it a better chance of survival.
8.12.2006 12:54pm
Erasmussimo:
Kevin writes,

The litany of credible charges against UN peacekeeping and refugee efforts in the Middle East has been covered, albeit piecemeal, on this very blog. during your stay here.

I do not recall any such litany in any of the topics that I have participated in. However, my memory could be faulty. There's no need to provide me with the entire litany; a single solid piece of evidence (as opposed to a tiny shred of evidence trumped up with conspiracy theory thinking) will suffice. Even a pointer to such evidence will do.
8.12.2006 1:04pm
SG:
I hope you are right, Erasmussimo. But I fear that "Human, not just Jewish, rights" is probably more correct. Arab forces are growing stronger; by and large they don't seem interested in a peaceful coeexistence, regardless of the location of the borders; eventually they will have the capability to remove Isreal by killing all the Israelis.

But, at least the Isrealis will have the support of the international community if that happens.
8.12.2006 1:09pm
chrismn (mail):
Human,

You should hope for the sake of the Arabs and Iranians that you are wrong. Israel has hundreds of nuclear weapons. The idea that they would allow themselves to be destroyed without wiping out Damascus, Cairo, Tehran, Mecca, and Medina first is a fantasy.

In fact, all of these wars are about saving Muslim lives. The West has the technology to wipe out not every last person, but enough of them to completely destroy their societies and at the cost of some fallout. The Romans would have done this years ago, and as another commenter mentioned above, human nature is human nature. If Israel or the West has to resort to this to survive, they will. It hasn't happened yet only because we rationally believe it hasn't come to that yet.
8.12.2006 1:15pm
Joel B. (mail):
But, at least the Isrealis will have the support of the international community if that happens.

Ha...the international community will do what it has always done, and silently wait while Jews are slaughtered. Doubtful that they'd even deplore the "disproportionality" of it instead demanding that Israel search for root causes.
8.12.2006 1:23pm
SG:

Ha...the international community will do what it has always done, and silently wait while Jews are slaughtered. Doubtful that they'd even deplore the "disproportionality" of it instead demanding that Israel search for root causes.


Oh, I disagree. I believe the French would send a very strongly worded letter.
8.12.2006 1:29pm
Humble Law Student (mail):
Human, not just Jewish, rights,

I actually know about military technology.

The Arabs are far more advanced today. The biggest disadvantage in the prior wars was that their populations were largely illiterate. They could not even read or write. Think about that for a second, you were fighting people who couldn't read or write.


Two things.

1. You can't even understand what argument to make.
2. You have no clue as to what you are talking about as your post indicates.
- Of course the Arab armies are technologically advanced today than 50 years ago. But that is irrelevant The only relevant point is how advanced they are compared to Israel.
- Yes, Egypt is licensed to build the M1A1 Abrams which gives the latest Merkava tanks a run for their money. Nevertheless, they can only produce it with American approval and the US government would never let Egypt use them against Israel. Saudia Arabia has a fairly advanced air force, but it doesn't have the quality or numbers to stand up to Israel, plus the US would never allow SA to use American equipment against Israel. Finally, you mention the UAE. They are a stalwart American ally, plus they also don't have the numbers to mount an effective challenge against Israel.
- The prime example of your willfull ignorance is this
Their equipment was made up of obsolete and downgraded Russian garbage which they didn't really know how to operate. Literally every country which fought with Russian garbage was devastated in the late 20th century. This includes Vietnam which lost about 30 soldiers for each American soldier lost. They were easily overmatched by a literate and well equipped Israeli military.
- Well, lets look at the Yom Kippur war in 1973. The Egyptian and Sryian armies were composed primarily of the T-62, T-55, and T-54 the latest in the Soviet army. They had thousands of the tanks, plus the latest Sagger anti-tank missiles and the thousands of the latest Russian SAMs. The only think they really didn't have was the T-72, but that only entered production for the Soviet army in 1971, barely time for any country to get any meaningful number of them. Just five minutes of fisking exposes you as either A) complete liar or B) horribly ignorant while pretending to be knowledgeable. Neither bodes well for your credibility.

To conclude, thankfully the Israelis are much more powerful relative to the Arab armies compared to decades past. Further, you have shown yourself to be a complete fabricator or even worse, someone who knows absolutely nothing but pretends otherwise. Please go take your worthless statements elsewhere.
8.12.2006 1:47pm
Human, not just Jewish, rights (mail):
Chrismn,

First of all I think you are a deranged lunatic and I recommend you see a psychiatrist. Fantasies of nuking the entire Arab world are one of many reasons why the Zionist ideology must (and is being, thank God) progressively defeated.

Second, Nuclear weapons are largely irrelevant in modern war as was proven by the fall of the Soviet Union. No one would even dare threaten to use them.

Third, if, by some freak chance lunatics like you (who I estimate represent 0.001% of the world population, but a much larger portion of the Israeli population) started lobbing nuclear weapons on Arab countries - then we would be pretty near Armageddon. Pakistan has nuclear weapons and they are rapidly developing more. Iran also likely has about four at this moment and is obviously developing them. The other Arab countries will get them in time.

I guess it's possible that the Zionist contribution to the world will be nuclear holocaust within 50 years, but I don't think the civilized world would allow that.

Human.
8.12.2006 1:48pm
Human, not just Jewish, rights (mail):
Humble, I've said everything I wanted to say. There's nothing credible about your assertions and you will learn in time. Hezbollah's victory is just one link in the chain which will bring down Zionism.

Did you read those links I posted for you?
8.12.2006 1:52pm
Humble Law Student (mail):
Another point to Human,

The ability of Hezbollah to take out some Isreali tanks means nothing. Any army suffers losses in combat. Hezbollah has no chance against the Israeli army if the IDF were free to engage Hezbollah without the artificial constraints placed upon it and because of the guerilla warfare being waged by Hezbollah.

If Israel fought with the same rules as Hezbollah the result would be a few hundred or thousand IDF dead, but the total extermination of Hezbollah from Lebanon.
8.12.2006 1:53pm
Humble Law Student (mail):
Human,

yes, I did read them. Just go pick up any book on the Yom Kippur war or read wiki.

Your ignorance is appalling.
8.12.2006 1:53pm
Human, not just Jewish, rights (mail):
To everyone forecasting the death of all Israelis, that's silly. The Zionist regime will not end that way.

Rather it will eventually more or less peacefully collapse. Military defeats will be a part of the reason, but the biggest reason will the civilized world's outrage (excluding a few in the US, UK and Israel) against a country based on the exclusion of certain races and religions.
8.12.2006 1:54pm
Humble Law Student (mail):
Btw, where is the moderator to remove such trash? I hate the time I waste arguing with such a person.
8.12.2006 1:55pm
Erasmussimo:
SG, you argue for a strategy that cannot work, and then when you realize that it cannot work, lapse into cynicism. Why not take the constructive route and pursue a strategy that can work? Israel has been digging itself into a hole for 30 years now. During this time, the way out was obvious: settle for a Palestinian state on the West Bank and Gaza, with some sort of internationalization of Jerusalem. Yes, Arafat refused to go along with it when it was offered to him at Camp David. So what? Israel has the whip hand here; it could have simply built its border wall, retreated behind it, and left the West Bank and Gaza to the PA. But Israel just couldn't let go of substantial amounts of West Bank territory, and absolutely refused to make any significant compromise on Jerusalem. And their treatment of Palestinians has only made matters worse by making hatred of Israel endemic to the Palestinian population. There's a fundamental fact here: you can't maintain an occupation force among foreigners forever. They'll tolerate it for a while, but resentments steadily build. After thirty years, Palestinian hatred for Israelis is deep and strong. The Israelis have two choices: genocide against the Palestinians (which will only make matters worse), or start down the long path of reconciliation with them.

But the Israelis are themselves too steeped in hatred to accept these realities. We have a situation analogous to that in Northern Ireland during the 70s, only much worse: two social groups so drenched in mutual hate that they can never reconcile. The only resolution came from a third party (Britain) imposing a peace upon them. It took decades, and the work is still unfinished, but it's a damn sight better than the two sides slaughtering each other.

Similarly, supporting one side or the other just won't work. Israel and Palestine desperately need outsiders to step in, take over, disarm both sides, and impose order and a final resolution. It will take decades and there will be continuing outbreaks of violence, but it's the best chance Israel has for survival. The alternative is nuclear war in the Middle East.
8.12.2006 1:55pm
Michael B (mail):
Israel, in no way, should succomb to this hudna, barring a broader strategic design that is not at all apparent. Stratfor is indicating Israel has begun a major offensive (in a report dated less than an hour ago), and if true that is what is needed. The note about the butcher's bill above is all too true and the realities are what they are, not what we wish them to be.
8.12.2006 1:57pm
Human, not just Jewish, rights (mail):
Here's another mind-blower for you.

Even Israel's greatest "victory" (the 6 day war) was actually a huge defeat as it forced Israelis to spend immeasurable resources dealing with occupied territories. Further, their "defeated" enemies are all still there and stronger than ever. Zionist propaganda is quite silly sometimes.

I'm going to head off. I don't really have much more to add to my prior posts and also don't have the time to talk all day on here.

Have fun!
8.12.2006 1:57pm
Humble Law Student (mail):
Human,

God, what a sad person you are if your posts are what you pass off as arguments. Nice to see you can't deal with the issues, constantly change your points, and then try argue that a military defeat was actually a victory?

Go back to KOS or where ever else you come from. While many of us get emotional or excited at least we bother with half-reasonable and supportable arguments.
8.12.2006 2:00pm
Michael B (mail):
(In)Human, you are rife, but also riven, with contempt; it's a common blow-fish tactic which is easily and cheaply deployed, but means little or nothing. It also serves a smoke and mirrors approach as it helps you avoid any sound or convincing argument.

Boo.
8.12.2006 2:05pm
Humble Law Student (mail):
p.s. Sorry to everyone who had to read this crap. I realize I may have gone a bit overboard, but stuff like that really makes my blood boil.
8.12.2006 2:07pm
Erasmussimo:
Guys, could we return to discussing the issues and put an end to all this childish name-calling?
8.12.2006 2:14pm
SG:
Erasmussimo:

I argued for a strategy that will definitely work. People and nations have been conquered and subdued throughout history. It's this new-fangled "can't we all just get along" theory about people that are demonstrably willing to die if it gives them the opportunity to kill their enemy that seems to me to be unproven.

There seems to be this assertion that the problems would be solved if only the Israelis went back to the pre-67 borders Well, and correct me if I'm wrong, but aren't those "borders" just an armistice line established after the previous war was fought to a somewhat inconclusive resolution?

I don't dispute that the Palestinians have gotten the short end of the stick. But I don't see any reason to believe that any particular piece of land short of all of it will satisfy.

And as far as stepping in and making the sides peacefully co-exist...well, we're currently trying that in Iraq between Shia and Sunni. That doesn't seem to be working out so well, no? I'd think that's penny-ante compared to trying to arbutrate Muslim/Jew. Good luck to whoever gets stuck in the middle of that.

Things don't look good, and as you state (and I agree) the alternative is nuclear war. I agree, that's why I'd like to see the issue decided conclusively before both sides have that capability. I'd think it would ultimately result in less bloodshed.

Out of curiosity, do you think the nuclear threshold will be crossed first by the Israelis?
8.12.2006 2:31pm
Humble Law Student (mail):
Erasmussimo,

Okay strictly to the issues. Here's another great example of the indicment against you.

You write, "Israel has been digging itself into a hole for 30 years now. During this time, the way out was obvious: settle for a Palestinian state on the West Bank and Gaza, with some sort of internationalization of Jerusalem."
- That really is mindboggling. You can argue that it can work today, but 30 years ago? Come on Erasmussimo.
- Lets rehash shall we? The PLO was created before Israel ever took over the West Bank and Gaza from Jordan and Egypt respectively. The Arab nations had for decades sought to destroy Israel by any means possible. It was NOT obvious, nor is it necessarily now (though certainly more plausible today), that giving land to the Palestinians would solve the crises, when the primary goal of the Israel's enemies was not just Gaza, the West Bank, and Jerusalem, but ALL of Israel.

If Israel had lost just one of those many wars, it would have been exterminated. But, the Arab's could lose and lose and never face extermination.

Still waiting for you to apply your much parroted "rationalism" and critical thinking skills in a way than isn't anti-Israeli.
8.12.2006 2:41pm
Michael B (mail):
The following reflects merely some of the elements missing from the "discussion" of the issues, Erasmussimo:

National Socialism and Anti-Semitism in the Arab World. Or similarly Dershowitz recently.

Big Lies (pdf)

Little, itsy-bitsy, negligible things, like eliminationist strategies and tactics and a general social and political enculturation of negation and death and nihilism in general, a la al-Husseini, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem and friend and "business associate" of Himmler and Hitler, also Arafat, Nasrallah, et al.
8.12.2006 2:49pm
Michael B (mail):
And, come to think of it, the following as well, Meditations on Reutersgate: What's Going on in the MSM?.
8.12.2006 2:55pm
Erasmussimo:
SG, I'd like to address your statement:

People and nations have been conquered and subdued throughout history.

Up until modern times, "conquered and subdued" was accomplished primarily through genocide. For example, when the Jews rose in revolt in AD 70, the Romans massacred Jews and dispersed them, initiating the diaspora. This certainly subdued the Jews. Surely you would agree that this is not an acceptable Israeli strategy.

Most other conquests were really diplacements of the aristocracy. For example, when William the Conqueror took over England, he left the commoners to carry on their lives pretty much the same way they had been doing under their Anglo-Saxon kings. The only major change was the replacement of the Anglo-Saxon nobility with Norman nobility. This also is not an acceptable Israeli strategy.

In the twentieth century, we have had a number of illuminating experiences with conquest. The victors of World War I, for example, treated the defeated Germans harshly to make sure that the Germans learned their lesson. The Germans did indeed learn a lesson -- but it was not the lesson that the Allies had intended. Twenty years later, the Germans renewed World War I with great vigor.

After World War II, the Allies split into two camps. The Americans tried something entirely different. They felt it important to help the defeated nations, rather than grind them in the dirt. The Americans spent huge amounts of money in the Marshall Plan to help rebuild Germany and Japan. They came as conquerors but they stayed as benefactors. That worked, and the Germans and Japanese became strong allies of the Americans. Meanwhile, across the Iron Curtain, Joe Stalin was carrying out the "blood and iron" approach you seem to favor. He maintained a tough military occupation, kept the population under strict control, and met resistance with firmness. The result? A series of revolts spread out over decades, culminating in the Soviet admission of defeat and the freeing of all those conquered nations. No, they weren't subdued. They simply bided their time, kept up what resistance they could, and when the opportunity presented itself, they threw off the Soviet yoke.

The Israelis are doing exactly the same thing that the Soviets tried in Eastern Europe. They are occupying a land as foreign occupiers. They are ruling with an iron fist, and they meet resistance with firmness. History is clear in its lessons: the Israelis will fail just as Stalin failed.

You're right that the USA failed in its occupation of Iraq, and the reasons are much the same. We came as conquerors, not benefactors. We didn't spend much money on rebuilding Iraq, (we budgeted a lot, but not that much actually showed up as improvements in Iraq). In our arrogance, we failed to understand the sociology of the Iraqi people, thinking that we could simply impose American-style democracy upon a people completely unprepared for it. Now things are falling apart. To pull this off, you need to throw a LOT more soldiers and a LOT more money at it. Above all, you need to implement it from the ground up, not the top down. That takes a lot of people. But again, the alternative is nuclear war. We could have gotten peace rather cheaply 30 years ago. The price of a permanent peace is steadily rising. If we continue to quail at that price, we'll eventually be calculating the cost of a nuclear war.

Humble Law Student, I'm sorry, but you've crossed the line into mudslinging and so I will not engage you. Tone down your rhetoric and let's talk this over like gentlemen.
8.12.2006 3:15pm
TedL15 (mail):
David -

I'm not sure what you were hoping for. Would you have preferred that Israel, perhaps with the assistance of the United States, begin a war with Syria and Iran?

I understand that these days it is taken as a sign of worldly sophistication to welcome wars as as a way to resolve problems, but is this really the best way forward for Israel, the United States, or really, anybody? What result do you look forward to? A quick, decisive engagement, after which Hezbollah, Syria and Iran are disarmed, and the United States and Israel dictate terms of peace? That would be nice, but it's preposterous to believe that would happen. We could look forward instead to rivers of blood and a lasting, grinding resistance.

What Olmert (and apparently, the Bush administration) realized is that there was no hope of defeating Hezbollah. Israel can repulse Hezbollah attacks and pick off individual leaders, but it cannot root out all of its fighters or equipment without vastly expanding the conflict — not only engaging Iran and Syria, but also occupying Lebanon for the foreseeable. And how do you think that would go?

If there were an existential threat, then the risk of all-out war would be necessary. But you have not even begun to make the case that such a threat exists. Seeking to contain rather than eliminate the threat in a single dramatic gesture can be done with far less cost and far less risk of truly catastrophic outcomes.

Let's lower the temperature in the North and get to work (1) strengthening Lebanon and (2) creating a genuine two-state solution.
8.12.2006 3:29pm
Michael B (mail):
(1) strengthening Lebanon

The "world community" has failed to do so, after having plenty of time.

(2) creating a genuine two-state solution

Yea, when you allow a criminal predator, sex offender, whatever, to move in next door to you and your wife, then you'd have yourself a "genuine" neighbor and a "genuine" two-neighbor "solution" to your new neighbor's crime problem. Genuine in what sense, more precisely? Time would tell, time would very definitely tell. Then again, you don't really intend this as a solution concerning which you'd want to subject yourself to, though would be happy to subject the Israeli people to the exact same thing, excepting on the scale of a terrorist nation/state. If the Israelis fall for that, adieu.

And btw, no one, other than Nasrallah, Hezbollah, et al. are "welcoming" war.

Adieu.
8.12.2006 3:58pm
Erasmussimo:
Michael B, what alternative to a two-state solution do you see? I can see no such alternative.
8.12.2006 4:06pm
Kevin L. Connors (mail) (www):
A good post, Humble Law Student, on the superiority of the IDF, over its Arab neighbors, as far as it goes. But simply comparing hardware hardly gets at the most important factor. The IDF is a well integrated, highly trained, and totally professional military. The regular military forces of their neighbors are made up of conscripts, led by cronies. Except for the Saudis, and their smaller Gulf neighbors, all of which are US allies, and rely heavily upon our military leadership, the Arabs equip their militaries in a very ad-hoc, piecework fashion - as swayed by flashy weapons systems (and their propaganda value), as sound military judgment.

Further, much more so than superior hardware, wars are won by logistics and intelligence. And here, more than anywhere else, Israel's Arab neighbors don't hold a candle to it.

Erasmussimo, yes it seems you have stumbled all the way back. Now you are again touting as "workable" a plan that has been proven to be totally unworkable - that Israel retreat behind borders. That is what they did in South Lebanon and Gaza, which left a power vacuum unable to be filled by the government of Lebanon, or the Fatah government of Palestine, respectively. Now Israel has to deal with Hezbollah and Hamas.

I am rather busy today. But, absent anyone else stepping up to the plate, I will try to get you some credible accounts of UN compliancy in anti-Israeli terrorism before nightfall.
8.12.2006 4:24pm
Erasmussimo:
Kevin, you write, Now you are again touting as "workable" a plan that has been proven to be totally unworkable - that Israel retreat behind borders. That is what they did in South Lebanon and Gaza, which left a power vacuum unable to be filled by the government of Lebanon, or the Fatah government of Palestine, respectively. Now Israel has to deal with Hezbollah and Hamas.

The only thing that has been proven by the Israeli withdrawal from Gaza and Lebanon is that militants can ambush soldiers and kill and kidnap a few. I wouldn't call that the end of the world. And you overlook the fact that my proposal includes the building of a big wall along these borders -- which would have prevented both incidents.

But, absent anyone else stepping up to the plate, I will try to get you some credible accounts of UN compliancy in anti-Israeli terrorism before nightfall.

I would much appreciate that.
8.12.2006 4:34pm
SG:
Erasmussimo:

Fascinating. I read history completely opposite. Notablly, in WWII, the US didn't even begin to think about being magnanimous until after Germany and Japan had been ground into dust. Neither nation, and unlike WWI, harbored any illusions that they hadn't been conquered. Ask any Hiroshima or Dresden resident if the US came as a benefactor or a conqueror.

Now contrast that with Iraq, where reconstruction plans were being made before the invasion began. We stated repeatedly that we had no beef with the Iraqi people, just their government. We tried coming as benefcators, and completely skipped the conquering. Sure, we deposed Saddam, but we left a power vacuum, which various parties are still trying to fill. A conqueror would have left no doubt as to who was in charge. We tried to wage war compassionately; I think we've just prolonged the pain of war.

We're talking about trying to fundamentally remake a culture and remove their warlike inclinations. We can look at the cases where we've been successful (Germany, Japan) and where we've failed (North Korea, Iraq, Palestine). Now I freely admit that the analogy elides a lot of important details, but just going by that I'd say the problem to date has been a too limited a use of force, not too great of one.

I am aware of where this might go. The G-word. But, if the people (on either side) would rather have all their kin be put to death before they would peaceably coexist with the other, well, that's pretty clarifying, isn't it? I mean, if they are willing to countenance the destruction of their own people, then there's no possiblilty for any negotiated settlement.

I don't like that conclusion, but I haven't seen anything that leads me to believe it's not true. You're a big proponent of rationality, that means you can't rule out a possibility supported by the evidence just because you don't like it.
8.12.2006 4:41pm
JunkYardLawDog (mail):
Given today's miltary actions by Israel, maybe Olmert isn't as incompetent as some portrayed him to be yesterday. The Israelis have inserted troops to the north of Hizbollah at the Litani river. They have now effectively surrounded the Hizbollah fighters. The resolution calls for the cessation of "offensive" actions by Israel. If Hizbollah continues to fight within the circle of potential death that they now find themselves, Israel's actions will be defensive NOT offensive. If Hizbollah continues to fire rockets into Israel, then Israel's actions in Lebannon would be defensive not offensive.

There was a time when I was a lot more sympathetic with the arab/palestinian cause. I supported the return to the UN resolution 242 borders since the 1980's. I had much less understanding and empathy for what Israel went through year after year after year. Then came islamofascist attacks on the USA, World Trade Center I, USS Cole, Kobar Towers, and 9/11. Since 9/11 I rethought what Israel has endured and handled with a lot of restraint in my opinion since 1948. 9/11 made me think, hey why are we holding the Israelis back. Lets turn them loose and thell them to knock themselves out doing anything and everything they think is necessary to secure their right to be left alone and live in peace. Sometimes irrational murdering scum are just irrational murdering scum, and they need to be dealt with accordingly.

WTF happened to my post on airport searches and the allocation of limited resources? There was absolutely nothing offensive in that post. Unless rational thought and the truth have suddenly become offensive.

Says the "Dog"
8.12.2006 4:42pm
Erasmussimo:
SG, your interpretation of history fails to note the dividing line made by the cessation of hostilities. Yes, while the enemy nations continued to offer armed resistance, the US continued to fight. But as soon as the enemy surrendered, everything changed. As I wrote, the Americans came as conquerors, but they stayed as benefactors. The Israelis did not do this in the Occupied Territories.

There is a difference in the Israeli situation in that there was no government to surrender. But otherwise, the situations were initially similar. You may not recall, but in the aftermath of the 1967 war the Palestinians offered very little resistance to the Israeli occupation. Palestinian resistance inside the Occupied Territories was very weak at first and did not become a serious factor until the first Intifadah in 1989. The Israelis achieved total victory over the Palestinians in 1967, yet resistance has grown stronger, not weaker, with the passage of time. Thus, the historical evidence directly contradicts your claim.

You offer nothing to counter my assertions about the historical experience of the Soviet occupation of Eastern Europe. It's the difference in approaches and results that is so instructive. If the Israeli government had any sense, they would emulate the Americans in Germany, not the Soviets in Poland.
8.12.2006 5:16pm
Onomatopia (mail):
So if I read it right, there seems to be agreement that had the Israeli's simply been willing to ethnically cleanse Lebanon of all Shiite Muslims they would have been able to militarily destroy Hezbollah. No offense, but all this "saving them from our nukes" talk makes me a bit queezy.

With regard to the military superiority debate, yes a battalion of Israeli forces can beat a battalion of Hezbollah (or for that matter Syrian, Iranian or Egyptian) soldiers. The problem is that they realized this in the 1970's and so stopped fighting them conventionally. Also, since we're considering genocide here, it becomes the IDF against the 2m Muslims in Lebanon.

I'm sure the Saudi's or Egyptians won't use the weapons which are on their bases and controlled by their soldiers because we said so (just like they would never help out the Wahabi terrorists who have killed thousands of Americans... or the Israeli's would never resell our advanced systems to the Chinese... woops).

The simple fact is, Israel can no longer depend on a military solution because over the past decade they have managed to piss off the formerly neutral Iranian's. Worse, every day that Israel continues to live under the illusion that it can impose its will the closer it gets to its ultimate destruction.

Simple demography is all you need to know that not only is the population gap between Israel and its opponents growing, but internally they are moving slowly but surely to Jews being an ethnic minority. And the people who most want to enact their own holocaust (yes, I'm looking at you Nesrallah) know this. The laws of negotiating tell us that every time Israel stabs a moderate Arab in the back or fails to give that little bit extra to get a peace deal done they lose leverage and the final solution moves further from coexistence and more towards Hitler's idea of it.
8.12.2006 5:46pm
Humble Law Student (mail):
Erasmussimo, (edited to take out the "offensive" elements)

Okay strictly to the issues. Here's another great example of the indicment against you.

You write, "Israel has been digging itself into a hole for 30 years now. During this time, the way out was obvious: settle for a Palestinian state on the West Bank and Gaza, with some sort of internationalization of Jerusalem."
- That really is mindboggling. You can argue that it can work today, but 30 years ago? Come on Erasmussimo.
- Lets rehash shall we? The PLO was created before Israel ever took over the West Bank and Gaza from Jordan and Egypt respectively. The Arab nations had for decades sought to destroy Israel by any means possible. It was NOT obvious, nor is it necessarily now (though certainly more plausible today), that giving land to the Palestinians would solve the crises, when the primary goal of the Israel's enemies was not just Gaza, the West Bank, and Jerusalem, but ALL of Israel.
- The worthiness of your argument is hardly obvious now, let alone thirty years ago.
8.12.2006 6:44pm
Erasmussimo:
Okay strictly to the issues. Here's another great example of the indicment against you.

Um, so the issue is that you're indicting me? Gee, when did this discussion come to be about me? I find such a discussion quite boring. Let's talk about Israeli policy, shall we?

You claim that a peace settlement 30 years ago would never have worked. In the absence of any evidence to that effect, you're speculating. My own speculation is that it could have worked. It doesn't take much to support the claim that it *could* have worked. It takes a great deal of evidence -- which you don't have -- to prove that it *could not* have worked.
8.12.2006 7:09pm
Humble Law Student (mail):
Erasmussimo,

You're changing the issue. It wasn't about "speculation."

Your argument was that is was obvious now and, more importantly, 30 years ago.
It is hardly obvious now, let alone 30 years ago. That is (or at least was) the full depth of the argument.
8.12.2006 7:23pm
SG:
Erasmussimo:

It strikes me that Lebanon is precisely an example of the solution you propose. The Israelis withdrew behind an internationally recognized border and an international force was put in place to keep the peace between the two parties.

How has that worked out?
8.12.2006 8:10pm
Erasmussimo:
SG, there were three flaws in the implementation of the withdrawal from Lebanon:

1. Southern Lebanon was permitted to fester in poverty, with Hezbollah (supported by Iran) being the only operation providing people with civil services. America, the European nations, and even Israel should have allocated funds to improve the standard of living so that Hezbollah would not have been necessary to the well-being of the people.

2. Unifil was undermanned. There should have been many more troops, but the rest of the world was reluctant to make that kind of commitment.

3. Israel never built adequate border defenses. Yes, it would have been expensive to do so, but I daresay that total Israeli expenditures on this war have already exceeded the cost of a continuous wall with proper defenses. Jeez, the Romans could afford to build Hadrian's Wall, which is longer than any wall the Israelis need build on their border with Lebanon; surely the Israelis could do better.
8.12.2006 9:23pm
SG:
1. Europe, US, and yes, even Israel funneled billions of dollars to the Palestinian Authority. That experience showed that money did not show up as social services, but instead funded miltiant activities. What leads you to believe that Hezb'allah would not do the same?

2. Is there any evidence that UNIFIL was unsuccessful due to a lack of resources? That is, what missions did they attempt that failed? Are there any missions that they infact attempted?

3. How high does a wall need to be to stop a Katyusha? Would the Israelis be brought to The Hague to answer for that wall too?

That said, I appreciate the desire to find a non-violent solution. And who knows, maybe there is a magic formula that will make it all work. But is there any evidence that would convince you that at least one of the parties simply wants war and won't be negotiated out of it?
8.12.2006 9:44pm
Kevin L. Connors (mail) (www):
Erasmussimo, Going back a little over fours, this article is pretty well worked out and authoritative. In case you are unfamiliar with WINEP, they are perhaps the most respected Mid-East think tanks in the world. Their roster of current and former associates reads like a "who's who" of foreign policy experts, from both parties here in the US, and from elsewhere in the world:

The UN's Refugees

By Michael Rubin

Wall Street Journal April 18, 2002

On Monday, France, Belgium and four other European Union members endorsed a U.N. Human Rights Commission resolution condoning "all available means, including armed struggle" to establish a Palestinian state. Hence, six European Union members and the rights commission now join the 57 nations of the Islamic Conference in legitimising suicide bombers. By their logic of moral equivalence, terror is justifiable because its root cause is Israel's occupation. That Palestinian terror predates occupation, or that suicide bombings became a tactic of choice only after the initiation of the Oslo process, is too inconvenient to mention.

Unfortunately the U.N. goes beyond giving rhetorical support for terrorism. In a variety of ways, its agencies have been complicit in Middle Eastern terror. Start with the refugee camps.

The U.N. Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees began operation in 1950. The establishment of Israel, and its simultaneous invasion by five Arab states, resulted in the creation of approximately 600,000 Palestinian refugees. An equivalent number of Jews fled their homes in Iraq, Egypt, Yemen, and other Arab countries, and settled in Israel.

As disruptive as it was, the number of Jewish and Arab refugees pales in comparison to that created by the partition of India. There are today more than 100 million descendants of the original 15 million Indian and Pakistani refugees. The U.N. remained outside the conflict, and provided no political or economic incentive for refugees not to settle. Too bad the same restraint has not characterised the behaviour of the U.N. and Arab states in the Middle East.

As it is, UNRWA and the Arab League hold Palestinian refugees in limbo. UNRWA operates 27 refugee camps in the West Bank and Gaza, and another 32 camps in neighbouring Jordan, Lebanon, and Syria. It counts nearly four million Palestinians as refugees, including those whose grandparents never saw Palestine. (If U.N. High Commission for Refugees' criteria are applied, the figure is significantly lower). In 2001 alone, UNRWA spent $310 million on the camps.

It is these camps that have been at the centre of violence between Israeli forces and Palestinian gunmen. On Feb. 28, following a series of Palestinian terror attacks in Israel (including an attack on a young girl's Bat Mitzvah celebration), Israeli forces rolled into the Jenin and Balata refugee camps. They remained for three days. Defense Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer explained the Israeli strategy: "We are interested in one thing only, to stop and disrupt this wave of suicide attacks. We intend to go in and get out."

U.N. officials were instantaneous in their condemnation. Kofi Annan called on Israel "to withdraw immediately." High Commissioner for Human Rights Mary Robinson labelled the incursions "in total disregard of international human rights." On March 21, a UNRWA spokesman called on Israel to compensate the agency for damage to its refugee camps.

Israel's raids did damage the camps. But as a result of the operation, Israel uncovered illegal arms caches, bomb factories, and a plant manufacturing the new Kassam-2 rocket, designed to reach Israeli population centres from the West Bank and Gaza. Confronted with evidence of illegal Palestinian mines, mortars, and missiles, no U.N. official questioned how it was that bomb factories could exist in U.N.-managed refugee camps. Either the U.N. officials were unaware of the bomb factories -- a fact which would suggest utter incompetence -- or, more likely, the U.N. employees simply turned a blind eye.

Unfortunately, UNRWA is not alone in reinforcing the U.N.'s reputation as an organization incapable of fighting terror. On May 24, 2000, Israel unilaterally pulled back from southern Lebanon, a withdrawal the U.N. certified to be complete. Terror did not end, though. On October 7, 2000, Hezbollah guerillas crossed the border and kidnapped three Israeli soldiers (including one Israeli Arab), all of whom they subsequently killed. Observers from the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon videotaped the scene of the kidnapping, including the getaway cars, and some guerillas.

Inexplicably, they then hid the videotape. Questioned by Israeli officials, Terje Roed- Larsen, the U.N. Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, chided Israel for "questioning the good faith of senior United Nations officials." When after eight months the U.N. finally admitted to possessing the tape, officials baulked at showing it to the Israeli government since that might "undermine U.N. neutrality." The fact that U.N. observers protected and defended guerillas who crossed a U.N.-certified border, using cars with U.N. license plates while under the cover of U.N. flags, was apparently of no consequence to UNIFIL. Pronouncements aside, U.N. moral equivalency in practice dictates that terrorists are equal to states. Fighting terror compromises U.N. neutrality.

The U.N. has turned a blind eye to terror in Iraq as well. Throughout the spring and summer of 2001, a series of bomb explosions wracked the safe haven of northern Iraq. Kurdish authorities long suspected the complicity of certain U.N. drivers who crossed freely between the safe haven and Iraq proper. On July 19, 2001, Kurdish security arrested a Tunisian U.N. driver found in possession of explosives. A Yemeni national serving as deputy director of the U.N. mission in northern Iraq demanded that the driver be released before any investigation could be completed; he was. The U.N.'s reputation, in other words, trumps protecting innocents from Saddam Hussein's bombs.

The U.N. has a terrorism problem. Syria, a nation that hosts more terror groups than any other, sits on the Security Council. Along with Iran, Syria is a prime sponsor of Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah. Just two months after Nasrallah declared that "Jews invented the legend of the Nazi atrocities" and that Israel was a "cancerous body in the region . . . (which) must be uprooted," Mr. Annan bestowed international legitimacy upon Nasrallah by agreeing to an unprecedented meeting.

U.N. officials can make all the high-sounding pronouncements they desire, but if the U.N. wishes to defuse regional tensions and signal that terrorism is not acceptable, then there must be no equivocation. Perhaps Mr. Annan can be forgiven for not being aware that U.N.-funded refugee camps housed arms factories, or for allowing U.N. complicity in terror cover-ups in Lebanon and Iraq. But in a Middle East where perception is more important than reality, Mr. Annan's silence is deafening and his moral equivalency is interpreted as a green light for terror. The main casualty is U.N. credibility.

Mr. Rubin is an adjunct scholar of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.

Further, you tout the idea of building wall. But history shows us that walls, and other fortifications, have been woefully inadequate at doing any more than delaying a determined aggressor.

Modern missile technology makes them virtually obsolete. And make no mistake, allowed to progress undeterred, the missile technology of the terrorist organizations, just like that of their sponsor states, will improve.
8.12.2006 9:52pm
Erasmussimo:
Kevin, thanks for the documentation. There's only one case in this that is specific to our discussion: the refusal of the UNIFIL forces to turn over the videotape of Hezbollah actions to the Israelis. I question whether this constitutes being in league with Hezbollah. Let us suppose that the tables were turned and UNIFIL forces had videotaped Israeli military operations. Would Israel acquiesce to UNIFIL turning those videotapes over to Hezbollah? I should think so. If UNIFIL is to maintain its neutrality, it must not aid or abet either side in any of its activities. That includes operating as an intelligence source. UNIFIL's decision in this case strikes me as absolutely proper.

The report goes on to state:
The fact that U.N. observers protected and defended guerillas who crossed a U.N.-certified border, using cars with U.N. license plates while under the cover of U.N. flags, was apparently of no consequence to UNIFIL.

I believe that this statement reveals some highly unprofessional political bias in the report of a supposedly scholarly group. It presents absolutely no substantiation for its sensational claim that UNIFIL personnel "protected and defended guerillas". It makes the serious charge that the guerillas used cars with UN license plates and UN flags, yet offers no substantiation of this. I'm not denying that they did so -- I'm saying that, if the writer is going to slip such serious accusations into the report, he should offer some sort of substantiation, rather than slip it in as an aside.

Some of the other cases that the writer describes sound like they might have merit, but we're talking about the claim that the UNIFIL forces are in league with Hezbollah, and the documentation you offer doesn't do much to support that claim.

You write, But history shows us that walls, and other fortifications, have been woefully inadequate at doing any more than delaying a determined aggressor.

On the contrary, history demonstrates that defensive walls are very effective military structures. Hadrian's Wall served its purpose for several hundred years; as far as I know, it was never breached. The oldest city excavated, Jericho, had walls at least 5,000 years ago, and people were building walls around cities right up into the 18th century. It's true that in modern warfare, a wall is easily demolished -- but the kind of situation we're contemplating does not envision full-scale hostilities. We're talking about Israel preventing raiders and suicide bombers from sneaking inside the country -- and a wall does that job very nicely.

You point out, quite correctly, that missiles can easy go over walls. Actually, so can artillery and mortars. But these cases are not relevant to the policy problem Israel faces. A standard tit-for-tat policy of airstrike retaliations should be effective in minimizing that kind of problem. Indeed, because rockets follow predictable trajectories, it would not be difficult to build a monitoring system that could track incoming missiles, calculate the launch point, and launch counter-missiles within seconds. Sound too high-tech? The US Army had such a system operational during World War II -- although it was for artillery, not missiles. It took them minutes, not seconds, to respond to incoming artillery fire, but by the end of the war, they made it nearly impossible for German artillery to operate.
8.13.2006 2:48am
Bottomfish (mail):
For those who are still interested in the original subject of this thread, UN Sec Res 1701, an interesting analysis by Barry Rubin has just appeared in the current JPost. I must also point out that one of the doubts I expressed earlier in the thread -- whether Lebanon had the will to cooperate in keeping out arms shipments over the border -- figures prominently in Rubin's discussion. Here is how he puts it:

Hizballah, Iran, and Syria will not cooperate. The Lebanese government will be too weak, afraid, and sympathetic to them to force cooperation. The international community is too craven, ignorant, and cowardly to act toughly. And even if it wanted to do so (see below) it needs the permission of the Lebanese government. The question then is whether the ceasefire will work well enough to be minimally acceptable or not.
8.13.2006 8:39am
Toby:
Erasmussimo makes three observations. None of them support his arguments.:


SG, there were three flaws in the implementation of the withdrawal from Lebanon:



1. Southern Lebanon was permitted to fester in poverty, with Hezbollah (supported by Iran) being the only operation providing people with civil services. America, the European nations, and even Israel should have allocated funds to improve the standard of living so that Hezbollah would not have been necessary to the well-being of the people.


Which funds have you identified from which sources to to do this? Do you have any reason to believe they will be allocated now?


2. Unifil was undermanned. There should have been many more troops, but the rest of the world was reluctant to make that kind of commitment.

Under what circumstances will more UNIFIL forces be allocated. DO you have any evidence that the rest of the world is less reluctant now?


3. Israel never built adequate border defenses. Yes, it would have been expensive to do so, but I daresay that total Israeli expenditures on this war have already exceeded the cost of a continuous wall with proper defenses. Jeez, the Romans could afford to build Hadrian's Wall, which is longer than any wall the Israelis need build on their border with Lebanon; surely the Israelis could do better

.

The last major attempt to rely on a wall as the sole defense was constructed by Maginot. Please recall what relying on the Maginot line did to the overall effectiveness of the French military. Please describe how effective a military so composed for pure defense reacted when its defense was breached?
8.13.2006 2:44pm
Erasmussimo:
Toby, your argument seems to be that my proposal is not feasible. I agree that it is not politically feasible; I have previously pointed out that there is no politically feasible resolution to the current troubles in the Middle East. There won't be any such feasibility until the world recognizes the seriousness of the problem and starts to take action.

Lastly, you write,

The last major attempt to rely on a wall as the sole defense was constructed by Maginot. Please recall what relying on the Maginot line did to the overall effectiveness of the French military. Please describe how effective a military so composed for pure defense reacted when its defense was breached?

Inasmuch as Hezbollah is a little short on Panzer divisions just now, I don't think your analogy apt. Besides, you're still thinking in terms of a wall being used in all-out warfare, and that's not the purpose of the wall I propose. I'm thinking of something to prevent infiltration by terrorists in times of peace. A wall would have prevented the event that precipitated the current round of bloodletting.
8.13.2006 3:47pm
gramm:
this posts demonstrates a surprising lack of vision. olmert is not evidencing incompetence. indeed, quite the opposite is true. while he is relenting to international expectations, he is doing so with the certainty that this is hardly the end of the current conflict.

the expanded u.n. peacekeeping force that will be placed in southern lebanon, and which will surely include some american troops, is merely a pretext for an escalation of this conflict into a regional war in which the united states can intervene under cover of outrage over the death of its soldiers at the hands of hezbollah.

our response will be swift and broad. iran and syria are in the cross-hairs and have been from the start. keep your eyes open because it's about to get very, very ugly.
8.13.2006 4:50pm
Kevin L. Connors (mail) (www):
Your knowledge of history is rather lacking, Erasmussimo. Hadrian's Wall succeeded not as a barrier, but as a center for settlement, trade, and cooperation. The same can be said for the portals through the various Great Walls of China. However, when the hordes whished to invade, they simply went around. Oh, and they were rather short on Panzer divisions as well. ;)

But barriers can be breached in other ways. When Hamas guerillas wish to transit from Gaza into Israel, they frequently do so through tunnels (just like drugs, from Mexico into California).

None the less, you claim that a few rocket attacks, with a "tit-for-tat" response is a tolerable situation. Just where does one draw the line here. Where would we, if Hezbollah set up shop in Tijuana, and started lobbing rockets into San Diego?

Oh, and speaking of history, it seems you missed Dave Kopel's post of July 21. It offers a lot of back-up.
8.13.2006 5:11pm
Erasmussimo:
Kevin, you note that Hadrian's Wall was used not as a barrier, but as a center for settlement, trade, and cooperation. Gee, then why did they have to build a wall? Couldn't they simply have set up some settlements with market squares?

Yes, it's possible to tunnel underneath walls. And you counter this with underground microphones that detect the noise of digging. This technology has been in use for decades.

I remind you that what I am proposing is nothing more than an extension of the existing Israeli wall along the West Bank border to include the Lebanese border. Are you saying that the Israeli government is foolish to build that wall?

you claim that a few rocket attacks, with a "tit-for-tat" response is a tolerable situation.

It's a situation both sides can live with, and I think it's one that will eventually fade away. In any case, it sure beats all heck out of nuclear war.

Thanks to the reference to Dave Kopel's link. It appears that some Indian UN soldiers took bribes from Hezbollah. That's criminal activity and they should be punished -- but it does not constitute the UN being "in league with" Hezbollah. Nor does the UN's refusal to hand over information about the kidnapping. One of the most fundamental rules for UN peacekeeper is "Do not fire except to defend yourself." UN peacekeepers are not police forces and they do not intervene in combat between two hostile forces. Their fundamental role is to observe and report.
8.13.2006 5:52pm
David M. Nieporent (www):
Yes, it's possible to tunnel underneath walls. And you counter this with underground microphones that detect the noise of digging. This technology has been in use for decades.
Which explains, presumably, how the U.S. won the war on drugs.

I remind you that what I am proposing is nothing more than an extension of the existing Israeli wall along the West Bank border to include the Lebanese border. Are you saying that the Israeli government is foolish to build that wall?
No; what you're forgetting is that Israel controls both sides of that wall, making it nonanalogous to a wall between Lebanon and Israel. The wall around Gaza kept Israel virtually completely safe from attacks from Gaza -- until Israel pulled out of Gaza, at which point it was no longer effective.
8.13.2006 6:14pm
Erasmussimo:
The wall around Gaza kept Israel virtually completely safe from attacks from Gaza -- until Israel pulled out of Gaza, at which point it was no longer effective.
Why do you say that the wall is no longer effective? What new activities have arisen that were not taking place prior to the departure from Gaza? As far as I know, there is still occasional mortar fire and the occasional rocket -- which were commonplace events before Israel's withdrawal from Gaza. And in any case, the effectiveness of these attacks is minimal. All of the Israeli casualties I have read about in the last few weeks have come from Hezbollah rockets from Lebanon, not from the Gaza strip.
8.13.2006 7:03pm
Kevin L. Connors (mail) (www):
Erasmussimo:

Gee, then why did they have to build a wall? Couldn't they simply have set up some settlements with market squares?

Study your history man.
8.13.2006 7:32pm
Erasmussimo:
Oh, dear, dear, dear, Kevin, you really shouldn't expose yourself that way -- you never know when you'll encounter somebody who actually knows their history. First, let me point out that you failed to understand the rhetorical nature of my question. It's point is that your claim that Hadrian's Wall served no military purpose is patently absurd. It was the British extension of the Roman limes system, which tracked across Europe for hundreds of miles.

Second, since activity has died off in this topic, I think it pardonable to demonstrate just how dangerous it is to take the stance you did. Here are a few simple questions whose answers you are not likely to find on the Internet. You'll have to answer them from your own knowledge of history. They all can be answered in a single short sentence. See if you can handle any of them:

1. What was the primary expression of military conflict in Dark Age Britain, and what unique military structures were used to counter it?

2. From where did Reformation Europe get most of its beef?

3. How many trips did the typical Roman grain ship make per year?

Good luck.
8.13.2006 9:43pm
David M. Nieporent (www):
Why do you say that the wall is no longer effective? What new activities have arisen that were not taking place prior to the departure from Gaza? As far as I know, there is still occasional mortar fire and the occasional rocket -- which were commonplace events before Israel's withdrawal from Gaza. And in any case, the effectiveness of these attacks is minimal. All of the Israeli casualties I have read about in the last few weeks have come from Hezbollah rockets from Lebanon, not from the Gaza strip.
Aside from the fact that the rocket fire has increased drastically since the withdrawal... it has kind of been obscured because of the Hezbollah situation, but did you forget that Hamas attacked and killed two Israeli soldiers and kidnapped Gilad Shalit?
8.13.2006 10:05pm
Kevin L. Connors (mail) (www):
Typical Erasmussimo - attempting to obfuscate with non sequiturs. Tsk-tsk.
8.14.2006 1:52pm
Humble Law Student (mail):
Kevin and Erasmussimo,

You two talked right past each on the wall issue. Of course, the Romans built the way out of some perceived military necessity. Kevin's point is that walls aren't usually much of a deterrent to a determined foe, and that Hadrian's wall, while born from military necessity, acheived its true value (or perhaps usefulness is more accurate) as a center of trade. Your two basic points aren't necessarily mutually exclusive.

If my understanding is accurate, you both talked right past each other.
8.14.2006 6:15pm
Kevin L. Connors (mail) (www):
No Humble, I addressed Erasmussimo's claim specifically, in that he/she claimed Hadrian's Wall was effective for "centuries." (When, in fact, a strong argument can be made that it was obsolete upon completion.)

But, when faced with the failings of his/her argument, Erasmussimo turns to absurd defense (as in the RatherGate thread) or non sequitur. At this point, continuing the discussion becomes no more productive or pleasant than self-flagellation. As such, I choose to resign.
8.14.2006 6:37pm
Kevin L. Connors (mail) (www):
Oh, and BTW: I'm not so sure about Roman grain shipments, but I could write thesis papers on the evolution of the beef industry, and siege warfare. ;)
8.14.2006 6:48pm
Erasmussimo:
Well, Kevin, if you have some evidence of military attacks across Hadrian's Wall, by all means present it. As far as I know, it was quite successful at preventing such attacks.

Yes, a wall will not stop a determined foe willing to expend main force against it. But, as I have said over and over and over again, the wall that I propose is not intended for prevention of main force attacks, it is to prevent infiltration by small groups.

And if you're so knowledgeable about the evolution of the beef industry, then why not answer my question about the beef supply for Reformation Europe? Providing some actual numbers might be especially useful.

When you give up, I'll be happy to provide the answers.
8.14.2006 9:53pm
Kevin L. Connors (mail) (www):
Get a clue, [deleted by poster] - it's over.
8.14.2006 10:19pm