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Sunday, July 16, 2006

The Woe Of It All

Today Hizbollah rockets hit Haifa and eight are reported dead there. On the 13th, the Lebanese government wrote a letter to the UN saying that around 50 Lebanese had been killed. I can find no update as of today on total casualties, although there certainly are ongoing casualties. On Saturday, Daily Star listing over 70 Lebanese deaths.

WaPo carried a very interesting article today addressing the question of whether Hamas and Hizbollah were coordinating attacks, and whether Iran or Syria are involved. I wish everyone would read this article as a whole. It contrasts the Clinton administration and the Bush administration and appears to imply that the US and Israel are operating together to advance their own agenda, rather than Israel responding to an attack within its borders. These are the first three paragraphs:
Israel, with U.S. support, intends to resist calls for a cease-fire and continue a longer-term strategy of punishing Hezbollah, which is likely to include several weeks of precision bombing in Lebanon, according to senior Israeli and U.S. officials.

For Israel, the goal is to eliminate Hezbollah as a security threat -- or altogether, the sources said. A senior Israeli official confirmed that Hezbollah leader Hasan Nasrallah is a target, on the calculation that the Shiite movement would be far less dynamic without him.

For the United States, the broader goal is to strangle the axis of Hezbollah, Hamas, Syria and Iran, which the Bush administration believes is pooling resources to change the strategic playing field in the Middle East, U.S. officials say.
What a very interesting spin. Suddenly we have the Zionists conspiring with the Great Satan to achieve their goals? No mention is made of Israel's demand to get its two soldiers back from Hizbollah in the article at all, though note is made that Lebanon seems uninterested in taking away Hizbollah's rockets and moving its own troops in to guard the border. Here, by the way, is what The Daily Star, a Lebanese paper printed yesterday about Israeli goals:
Olmert warned that Israel would not halt its offensive until Hizbullah was disarmed. He made the comment during a telephone conversation with UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, Israeli government officials said.

Olmert set two other conditions for a cease-fire: the release of the two captured soldiers and a halt to rocket fire.

"If these conditions are met, we are ready to cooperate with a delegation from the UN," an Israeli spokeswoman said.
I do believe WaPo is working as hard as it can to ensure that everyone knows that it is not part of the Zionist-controlled US press the Islamists love to discuss. And now we come to a second WaPo article today, which takes a critical look at the theory that Hizbollah's action has anything to do with Iran or Syria:
U.S. and Israeli officials have gone a step further, publicly charging -- without offering direct evidence -- that Iran and Syria had a hand in the operations. A senior U.S. official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the United States had intelligence that Hezbollah leader Hasan Nasrallah traveled from Beirut to Damascus to visit Hamas political chief Khaled Mashal shortly before Wednesday's Hezbollah raid, suggesting the operations were linked, the official said.
Every rightthinker in the US press, of course, knows that nothing a BushCo official says can be taken as evidence. I am curious as to what would be considered as "direct evidence"? I would have thought Hizbollah's impressive armory of missiles was direct evidence enough. They certainly didn't manufacture them. WaPo proceeds to quote a Palestinian official:
Palestinian government spokesman Ghazi Hamad, a member of Hamas, denied any connections.

"If they have proof or evidence, they should show the world there is cooperation between Hamas and Hezbollah," he said, adding that in attempting to link Iran and Syria to events last week, the United States is "trying to convince the world that all these organizations should be put in one basket, and present this as the image of terror to the world."
In all fairness, WaPo then goes on to quote several Palestinians who aren't members of Hamas who think that Syria and Iran do have common interests and that they are creating a crisis through Hizbollah and Hamas in an attempt to divert attention away from Iranian nuclear ambitions. I'd like to help WaPo out with some "direct evidence". First, we have a Ya Libnan article quoting the leader of Hizbollah:
The damage resulting from Israeli aggression according to local estimates is in the tens of billions US Dollars so far.
. Nasrallah tells the Lebanese not to worry about the destruction. He said that there is a country that is willing to pay for this without preconditions. Many assumed he meant Iran
. Nasrallah warns that Hezbollah is ready to surprise Israel on land as it surprised it in the sea
. Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah warns in a television address that his group's fight against Israel will have 'no limits'
With 12,000 rockets, that's an interesting comment. This week Hizbollah struck an Israeli warship, prompting Israel to knock out Lebanese radar units on the coast. And AP carries an article on Nasrallah's statements:
Hezbollah leader Sheik Hassan Nasrallah urged Arabs and Muslims worldwide to support his guerrillas, saying Sunday that his group is fighting Israel on their behalf and that the battle has just begun.
"You Arab and Muslim people must take a position toward your future, the future of your children," he said. "The peoples of the Arab and Islamic world have a historic opportunity to score a defeat against the Zionist enemy ... We are providing the example."

"Hezbollah is not fighting a battle for Hezbollah or even for Lebanon but for the Islamic nation," he said.
Nasrallah did deny that Iranian troops were involved in the rocketry. For a Lebanese side look at things, try From Beirut to the Beltway. In an earlier post by Abu Keis:
The United States and Israel will not end their bloody campaign in Lebanon unless the Lebanese government takes on Iran and Syria. That's, in essence, what can be concluded from statements by Rice today, and from Israel's refusal to enter into negotiations or observe a cease-fire.
Lebanon has just emerged from decades of Syrian occupation, and is rebuilding its security services with US help. The US has been helping Lebanon in its struggle against Syrian interference. We lost a beloved prime minister and brilliant journalists and intellectuals in this fight. The Hariri investigation, supported by the US, had many Lebanese hoping justice can finally prevail in our country. Much has been riding on the outcome of this investigation, which became Lebanon's only weapon against a much more powerful Assad regime. Hizbullah's weapons were being discussed during a national dialogue that, though at times frustrating, was praised by the US and cited as an example of peaceful ways to resolve conflicts.

Israel and Bush must not be so stupid as to expect the Lebanese government to be able to challenge Syria and Iran and disarm Hizbullah just like that. Kahmenei today made it clear that Hizbullah will not lay down its arms. Hizbullah is controlled directly by the supreme leader in Tehran, so there is nothing Siniora can do.
It's impossible not to feel agonized sympathy with the Lebanese people. However, no people can expect to be immune from counter-attack when attacks are being launched from their territory. Surely the world ought to be able to gather up its courage enough to help Lebanon to disarm Hizbollah and to control its own border? Lying in major newspapers is not going to help any Lebanese civilian. For the west to be gutless international cowards isn't going to help any Lebanese civilian either. Perhaps the real key to this dilemma is that there were reports of celebrations and fireworks in Beirut after rocketry attacks in Israel. VOA:
In his latest speech, Nasrallah exulted over an Israeli warship that he said was hit by Hezbollah artillery. He claimed it was on fire and about to sink.
...a series of dull thuds echoed across Beirut. It was not a new round of Israeli attacks, but volleys of fireworks lighting up the sky from Beirut's southern suburbs, a Hezbollah stronghold. Red tracer bullets pierced the darkness as celebratory gunfire erupted.

In another neighborhood, small bands of people drove through the streets, shouting God is great, apparently celebrating the Hezbollah leader's reported escape from Israeli attempt on his life.

Outside of Hezbollah's Shiite strongholds, other residents of Lebanon seemed at times terrified, at times resolute as Israel's attacks intensified.
There has got to be a way out of this aside from civil war for Lebanon. If there isn't, perhaps Israel will weaken Hizbollah's armory enough so that Hizbollah will come to the table with the Lebanese government. The US fought a tragic civil war when the southern states would not abandon slavery, so our nation has already consecrated our dedication to one principle with our own blood: You are your brother's keeper, and one part of a nation does bear moral responsibility for what another part does.

I hope Lebanon can get out of this without civil war, because that would cost Lebanon far more than the casualties Israel is inflicting now. In absolute numbers, the highest numbers of deaths in any US war were those in the civil war - 14.4% of the enrolled armies died in action or from other causes. Civil wars are terrible wars.

Lebanon is in an interesting/difficult position here and I'm certain there isn't a pleasant way out of this.

There's this plausible deniability thing that's being used because the attacks aren't coming from an official government organization. I think in the case of Palestine the government is in on it and using it as a shield, in the case of Lebanon I'm not as convinced the cooperation is as deep. But the willingness to accept militias undertaking missions under the control of someone other than the government is unacceptable. That has to stop. A governments willingness to allow it to continue says everything that needs to be said.

Like I said Lebanon for a lot of reasons may not have the ability to do much about it, Palestine I think likes the arrangement very much.
Palestine, unquestionably.

Lebanon? It's up in the air. But certainly the international community cannot afford to say that situation in Lebanon is somehow acceptable. We might as well put a gun to our own heads.

Isreal's demands are reasonable, and the international community has no right to say otherwise.
MOM, regarding bias, look what the WSJ is doing with an interactive map that shows only damage and attacks on Gaza and Lebanon: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB115306760246608000.html?mod=mostpop
It's disgusting. Tell only one side of any story, and a disinterested person will conclude that the party not represented is a monster.

Ask any divorce lawyer.
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