Monday, July 24, 2006

Re: The United States, Israel and Lebanon

July 25, 2006

Re: The United States, Israel and Lebanon.

From: Dean Lawrence R. Velvel

Dear Colleagues:

The questions of why Israel is taking the actions it is in fact taking in Lebanon, the reaction of the United States, and the extent to which the two countries are acting in concert – and/or may even have secretly conferred beforehand? -- are extremely interesting. This writer wishes to offer a few views of possibilities, often possibilities that the media has largely, or totally, ignored.

Israel has said it wants to recover its two soldiers capture by Hezbollah -- and, now forgotten by our incompetent media, the one previously captured by Hamas. As far as I know, it does not say if it even knows whether the soldiers are still alive (though one briefly stated sentence on CNN claimed the Lebanese (I think) foreign minister has said one of the two Hezbollah captives is alive and well). Despite the Israeli silence it has occasionally been pointed out that the concern for and premium Israelis place on the life of every serviceman and woman is not really understood by the west (much less in the Arab world, India, China or other such places). Perhaps one has to be a member of a group which lives with the memory of the Holocaust -- which we have long known the western democracies did not lift a finger to stop -- to really understand it.

Yet, the large-scale destruction all over Lebanon hardly seems the way to get back the soldiers. Arguably, it might even increase the possibility that they will be killed if they are still alive. So one goes to the second Israeli reason given for the war and, more particularly, for the massive destruction. This is the elimination or at least severe degradation of Hezbollah as an armed force. One’s reaction as to the possible success here is, “well, maybe.” I would concede that there is a possibility -- conceivably even a likelihood -- that the Israelis may be far more competent in southern Lebanon, on their border, and in Beirut, not far distant, than we were in Nam or Iraq, thousands of miles away, in both of which our politicians and military were perfectly incompetent. (I regard dishonesty and incompetence, both of which attended our efforts in Nam and Iraq, as the gravest causative sins of the modern world since 1960.) But even granted the possibility, even likelihood, that the Israelis are far more competent than we, the question of their success is still in doubt as this is written: rockets rain on Israel, Hezbollah (or Hizbullah, take your pick) still fights (fiercely, according to the latest reports), is said to still have 11,000 more rockets, and we don’t know whether or not the Israelis managed to knock off any of its top people with the famous 23 tons of bunkerbusting bombs. (The very top leader, Hassan Nasralla, was not killed, and subsequently appeared on al-Jazeera.)

The Israelis also say they wish to force Hezbollah to retreat from the border a sufficient distance so that it can no longer rain rockets on Israel. Well, to some extent this may be doable, because it is perfectly conceivable that the international community -- perhaps NATO -- will decide to station a force in, say, a ten mile deep strip on the border with orders to keep Hezbollah out. That would be major. Yet it won’t solve all problems, because Hezbollah now has some rockets that apparently will go 40 to 60 miles. Perhaps it could get a large arsenal of them and begin shooting them. Then what?

George Bush and Condoleezza Rice, those swinish architects of horrendous disaster in Iraq, do not wish an immediate cease fire. They keep saying, as does Israel, that the cause of the problem -- Hezbollah (ignoring, as Bush puts it, the Syrians who started this shit, and the Iranians who are fundamentally responsible for it) -- must be placed in a position where it will no longer be a problem. Well, that might be difficult because, in practical terms, Hezbollah is a stand-in for both Iran and Syria. As long as those two countries continue to want there to be a problem, it is likely that there will be a problem.

So why does Bush really want the fighting to continue? There are several possibilities. One is that, as he has proven so often, Bush is a stupid, militaristic (and authoritarian) fool who does not mind in the slightest seeing people killed -- as long as it’s not his family -- and who thinks that through this kind of thing will come peace, stability and security (subnom Iraq). One should not underestimate Bush’s militarism or stupidity. As for Rice, the woman never had an original idea in her life. She’s great at learning what’s in books, and her most important talent in life has been the ability to suck around Bush. (Colin Powell she’s not.)
Then, too, there is another possible reason why Bush didn’t want the fighting to stop right away. Bush has had a complete lack of success in dealing with Iran. There is no way he has been or will be able to peacefully persuade Iran not to produce nuclear weapons (just as he has totally failed to persuade North Korea). Looking at what has happened in Iraq and elsewhere, the Iranians have to be of a mind that the only way to be certain to avoid an American attack in the future is to possess their own nuclear deterrent. That’s sure as hell what I would think if I were them. As well, it is widely bruited in public that we would not be able to destroy Iran’s nuclear capacity because the sites are dispersed, deep underground, very hardened, etc.
So what to do? Well, one thing to do is to show the Iranians that, even if we can’t destroy their nuclear development work, we can certainly destroy their country. From the air, we can reduce it to rubble, and damn quick too. What is more, and as true for Syria too, we would want to show the Iranians and Syrians that their countries can be destroyed from the air if they continue to sponsor terrorism. (The same lesson might well apply to our so-called friends like the Pakistanis, even the Saudis.) What better way to show these countries that conventional bombing can destroy everything, and quickly too, than to have the Israelis rain destruction on Lebanon, reducing it in short order to an international basket case, which is about what has happened. The Iranians and Syrians, even the Pakistanis and the Saudis will take notice. If they are too stupid to take notice, their attention can be called to it in the “halls” and “channels” of diplomacy.
In addition, the rain of country-wide destruction from the air will show ordinary citizens within these countries that, much as they may hate and despise and wish for the destruction of America, Israel and the west, it is extremely dangerous, is fraught with destruction, to harbor organizations like Hezbollah, Hamas and al Qaeda in their midst. Guerrillas, said Mao, are the fish that swim in the sea, with the citizenry being the sea. A point could be to make the sea decide to be inhospitable to the fish.
All of this may not be as entirely crazy as it can sound. It does begin to look these days as if, ala Sam Huntington, there is a segment of Muslim society that seeks religiously-based confrontation with the west, and desires the world to return to the (pre medieval?) and certainly preenlightenment times of the 600s and 700s. My personal view is that, even if this is true, it most likely is, in effect, a reaction to the crusader and imperialistic occupation and economic control of the Middle East by Britain, France and the United States from the mid or latter part of the 19th Century until today. Nonetheless, it is important to somehow discourage the Muslim reverse crusaders, and one way to do this would be to have Israel show that, notwithstanding the horrific American conduct and gross American incompetence in Iraq, the west, with its advanced munitions and delivery systems, retains the power to wreak havoc if there is not to be peace.
I’m not saying this is the best idea on how to deal with the wave of Muslim- fundamentalist-sponsored terrorism now besetting the world. I don’t presently have a view on what is the best way, although – and only the more so because major western military campaigns seem to create ever more Muslim terrorists-- my own taste runs quite a bit more to negotiation and attempts at multilateral efforts than is true of the fool in the White House. All I am saying is that the idea that Bush might be using Israel as a proxy to show what the west can do to Muslim societies is not completely crazy, particularly in view of how Bush himself has botched the job in Iraq and therefore needs to show that the west is nonetheless quite powerful.
One last point. All eyes are currently on Lebanon and Hezbollah. But it has to be only a question of time until attention turns back to Hamas and Gaza, doesn’t it? If there is to be some form of settlement or resolution of the current situation, the Gaza problem has to be included, doesn’t it?*

* This posting represents the personal views of Lawrence R. Velvel. If you wish to respond to this email/blog, please email your response to me at Your response may be posted on the blog if you have no objection; please tell me if you do object.

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