Monday, July 31, 2006

Josh Marshall gets it right

In this post here.

' There are persistent signs that the US is egging Israel on to bring the war to Damascus....

And there are other ominous indications of the US pressing for expansion the Israelis don't seem to want.

There's more here than the US not wanting a ceasefire before meaningful changes on the ground have happened in south Lebanon. Or at least I fear there is. This started because Israel doesn't want and won't tolerate a menacing militia building up on their northern border and lashing out with occasional raids or missile attacks, especially in the context of withdrawals from other areas.

The world has sat by for six years and let Hizbullah's anamolous position in south Lebanon be Israel's problem. Whether their response was wise or just, I'll set aside for the moment. It's not about totalitarianism or Afghanistan or Iraq, at least not in an operational sense, or dingbat fantasies about Freedom and Terror. But there do appear to be forces in Washington -- seemingly the stronger ones, with Rice just a facade -- who see this whole thing as an opportunity for a grand call of double or nothing to get out of the disaster they've created in the region. Go into Syria, maybe Iran. Try to roll the table once and for all. No failed war that a new war can't solve. Condi's mindless 'birth pangs' remark wasn't just a gaffe -- or perhaps it was a gaffe in the Kinsleyan sense of inopportunely saying what you really think. That seems to be the thinking -- transformation through destabilization.'

So to qualify my last post: the current invasion of Lebanon is not really about Lebanon, and it never was. It is not about Hezbollah and it never was. It is about Iran and Syria. End of story.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

No fucking shit, sherlock

The L.A. Times has the stunning insight that 'Iran Is Bush's Target in Lebanon'

'To President Bush, the conflict in Lebanon is more than a campaign by Israel to protect its citizens from Hezbollah missiles. Instead, it is "a moment of opportunity" for the United States — with the most important target not Hezbollah or even neighboring Syria, but distant Iran.

When Bush talks publicly about the 18-day-old campaign, he often makes the point of blaming Iran, one of Hezbollah's main sponsors. Aides say that's a reflection of what he has said in private: that Israel's battle with Hezbollah is merely part of a larger struggle between the U.S. and Iran for influence across the Middle East.'

Etc. etc. etc.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Why Hizbollah is winning

Which, remarkably enough, is very similar to why American is losing in Iraq, too.

'Bombing people causes overwhelming anger at the bombers. It is the triumph of hope over experience that Israeli bombs dropping on Lebanese people will cause them to be angry at Hezbollah rather than the Israelis.

Both politically and militarily, Israel seems to be making this up as it goes along. Maybe that’s why Charles Krauthammer said on the “Beltway Boys” last night that Israel seems not yet to have implemented a strategy.

But Hezbollah has. Like Robert E. Lee fighting U.S. Grant, Hezbollah wins as long as it doesn’t lose. Conversely, Israel loses if it does not win. Today, sixteen days into the war, Israel has carried the fight into Hezbollah’s territory, but is not making obvious progress on the ground. Israel has wreaked incredible destruction upon Lebanon’s infrastructure, but there is no obvious connection between the deep air campaign and the progress, or lack of it, on the ground.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Christ we're all fucking doomed

Unless the flying spaghetti monster will come to save us.

'With Kyra Phillips's discussion of the Apocalypse and the Middle East conflict with Christian authors Jerry Jenkins and Joel C. Rosenberg -- who share the view that the Rapture is nigh -- CNN has, for the second time in three days, featured a segment on the potential coming of the Apocalypse, as indicated by current conflicts in the Middle East.'

The Middle East is South America the '50s and '60s. The whole region is run by the United States (a 'sphere of influence') who took over from the British. The current situation there cannot be understood unless it is seen that the Americans talk of democracy is a sham and a lie.

'The recent support of the US government for the death and destruction in Lebanon does not come as a surprise. Nor is it a surprise to see the silence of the European governments (especially UK). What is surprising, however, is the belief that the Arab streets still do not matter...Where does the US think the Al Qaeda fighters and supporters come from? From the country of Al Qaeda-istan? It is also a folly to rely on Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Jordan to keep the people under control. These countries’ rulers are part of the problem rather than the solution. In Saudi Arabia, the House of Saud rules like an old feudal lord. In Egypt, the President-for-Life Husni Mubarak crushes all dissent and is planning to install his son in power. In Jordan, King Abdollah II appoints and dismisses prime ministers and ministers. ...The people in these countries are fed-up with totalitarian and corrupt regimes. It is no wonder that Al Qaeda’s money, leadership and top lieutenants come mainly from these three countries. The people, rightly or wrongly, see the US support of these regimes as the source of their problems and constant humiliation....The Arabs should know that they can not rely on US for democratic change. The constant talk about democracy coming out of Washington is for US public consumption and not the Arab people. The Arabs have to rely on themselves and not wait for external help otherwise they will wait for another 50 years. Perhaps Arabs should listen to what Malcolm X said in 1965: “Nobody can give you freedom. Nobody can give you equality or justice or anything. If you're a man, you take it.”'

Monday, July 24, 2006

The biggest surprise of all!

'The Iraqi Prime Minister, Nouri al-Maliki, meets Tony Blair in London today as violence in Iraq reaches a new crescendo and senior Iraqi officials say the break up of the country is inevitable.
A car bomb in a market in the Shia stronghold of Sadr City in Baghdad yesterday killed 34 people and wounded a further 60 and was followed by a second bomb in the same area two hours later that left a further eight dead. Another car bomb outside a court house in Kirkuk killed a further 20 and injured 70 people.
"Iraq as a political project is finished," a senior government official was quoted as saying, adding: "The parties have moved to plan B." He said that the Shia, Sunni and Kurdish parties were now looking at ways to divide Iraq between them and to decide the future of Baghdad, where there is a mixed population. "There is serious talk of Baghdad being divided into [Shia] east and [Sunni] west," he said. '

Tra la la. Still as long as we are spreading democracy in the middle east.

Meanwhile, Iraq teeters on the brink

'The Iraqi prime minister, Nuri al-Maliki, left Baghdad yesterday for talks with Tony Blair and George Bush about deteriorating security, on a day when more than 60 people died in bomb attacks.
The US and Iraqi forces are to pour more troops into the capital over the next few weeks to shore up Mr Maliki's high-profile security clampdown, which has so far failed to reduce violence. Bombs in the main Shia district of Baghdad killed 42 civilians, while a blast in the northern city of Kirkuk killed at least 20.
Mr Maliki, who became prime minister two months ago, has said his government represents the last chance for Iraq. The Foreign Office says privately that it is about 50-50 on whether Mr Maliki can produce a semblance of order to prevent the country sliding into civil war and eventually breaking up into three parts.'

But not as surprising as this

'The U.S. method of pacifying Iraq after Saddam Hussein's fall actually may have spurred an anti-American insurgency, The Washington Post reported Sunday.
The setup of the post-Hussein U.S. presence undercut the mission, the newspaper said, citing "a review of thousands of military documents and hundreds of interviews with military personnel." '

Stunning insights there from the guardian of the once proud American journalistic tradition.

This is the most surprising thing ever.

The Iraqi government has called for an investigation after New York-based Human Rights Watch (HRW) said in a report released on Sunday that US military personnel regularly torture and abuse Iraqi detainees under interrogation.
"We urge the US government to explain the accusations present in the HRW report and punish severely those who have used torture," said Ahmed Abdel-Kareem, a senior official at the Ministry of Human Rights. "Since the Abu Ghraib scandal in 2004, the US military has claimed that it had abandoned such procedures and that serious investigations were underway. But now we see that the problem has only worsened."
According to the report, which covered the period from 2003 to 2005, Iraqi prisoners were routinely mistreated while under interrogation by US forces. John Sifton, author of the 53-page report and a senior researcher on terrorism at HRW, says that the US military command in Iraq actually condones such methods. "These accounts rebut US government claims that torture and abuse in Iraq was unauthorised and exceptional," said Sifton. "On the contrary, it was condoned and commonly used."

Friday, July 21, 2006

Wot no lobby?

The current invasion of the Lebanon by Israel leads to a number of interesting questions. Not least of which is: whither the Mearsheimer and Walt thesis? I mean, in light of this? 'Tony Blair is publicly highly supportive of Israel and has declined to call for an immediate ceasefire. But some in the Foreign Office are now privately urging greater restraint by Israel amid concern that the scale of the bombardment is counter-productive, disproportionate, and undermining the political stability of the Lebanese government.' Tony Blair has been the most pro-Israel PM...well.....ever. And yet, where is the Israel lobby in the UK? We know that Blair leans towards the US. But where is the US lobby?

Thursday, July 20, 2006

I don't know the netiquette

But Aron Trauring's blog seems to sum up the catastrophe in the Lebanon best: 'Israel invaded Lebanon in 1982 and bombed it to smithereens. At the time there was no Hezbollah to rain down rockets on northern Israel. 18 years, thousands of dead people later, Israel left Lebanon, with its tail between its legs and Hezbollah, a well trained, well armed guerilla movement, left behind as a potent force in Lebanon.

So now, when Israel seems bent on repeating the mistakes of the past (and despite the disclaimers, it looks like Israel will invade Lebanon and recreate the failed "buffer zone"), even before the invasion there are large numbers of casualties on the Israeli side. Does any rational person truly believe Israel can defeat the Hezbollah militarily, when it failed to do so for 18 years? Jews think of themselves as being smart. But the mind-numbing display of blind stupidity displayed by the so-called "pro-Israel" camp, takes one's breath away.'


After a number of disastrous and embarassing starts in the blogosphere this will hopefully be my semi-permanent home at least until time gets me. But then it gets us all, in the end.