Royally Kranked

Sunday, August 13, 2006

W's Iraq Strategy Doesn't Translate To Lebanon Any More Successfully Either

So even though this blog doesn't have a large readership, I do apologize for the tardiness between the last post and this one-Health problems, and trying to deal with the worst flooding El Paso's seen in over 50 years

Even worse on that front, it looks like El Paso is getting the New Orleans/Gulf Coast treatment courtesy of the feds and FEMA-but that's for another post

This one deals with yet more blood-drenched carnage that disproportionately affects innocent civilians, a strategy W thought would decisively tilt the balance of power towards Israel, and the US by extension, regarding Israel's bombing the Hell out of Lebanon in the now exposed as pathetic-hopes that Hezbollah could either be killed off or so seriously damaged as to not be any kind of a threat to Israel

So forget all the blather about the agreement put forth by the US & France, as long as the fighting drags on, it can only make the Bush Jr Administration's unquestioning backing of Israel's collective punishment of Lebanese civilians even more intolerable than the ongoing Iraq occupation

Apparently, the logic for the Administration was that it needed Israel to knock the Hell out of Hezbollah, in an attempt to pave the way for an attack on Iran, and by extension Syria, by the Administration

In fact, Israel had apparently been agitating for some time about the desire to hit Hezbollah, and wanted the Bush Jr Administration to sign off on such an attack, a strategy that W & Cheney thought to be a smart means to an end that would, in their view, establish US military ability as being so strong that the merest glare from 1600 Pennsylvania Ave would instantly cause all anti-US sentiment to cease to exist


“It’s a moment of clarification,” President George W. Bush said at the G-8 summit, in St. Petersburg, on July 16th. “It’s now become clear why we don’t have peace in the Middle East.” He described the relationship between Hezbollah and its supporters in Iran and Syria as one of the “root causes of instability,” and subsequently said that it was up to those countries to end the crisis. Two days later, despite calls from several governments for the United States to take the lead in negotiations to end the fighting, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said that a ceasefire should be put off until “the conditions are conducive.”

The Bush Administration, however, was closely involved in the planning of Israel’s retaliatory attacks. President Bush and Vice-President Dick Cheney were convinced, current and former intelligence and diplomatic officials told me, that a successful Israeli Air Force bombing campaign against Hezbollah’s heavily fortified underground-missile and command-and-control complexes in Lebanon could ease Israel’s security concerns and also serve as a prelude to a potential American preëmptive attack to destroy Iran’s nuclear installations, some of which are also buried deep underground.


The Middle East expert said that the Administration had several reasons for supporting the Israeli bombing campaign. Within the State Department, it was seen as a way to strengthen the Lebanese government so that it could assert its authority over the south of the country, much of which is controlled by Hezbollah. He went on, “The White House was more focussed on stripping Hezbollah of its missiles, because, if there was to be a military option against Iran’s nuclear facilities, it had to get rid of the weapons that Hezbollah could use in a potential retaliation at Israel. Bush wanted both. Bush was going after Iran, as part of the Axis of Evil, and its nuclear sites, and he was interested in going after Hezbollah as part of his interest in democratization, with Lebanon as one of the crown jewels of Middle East democracy.”

What's hurting the Administration in knowing about Iran's real-world nuclear capabilities is that no one, other than Iran's ruling Mullahs, know the true abilities in that respect. Of course, perhaps if Valerie Plame hadn't been deliberately outed by the Administration-seeing as how her assignment was Iran at the time of her treasonous outing-we would have a much more clear vision of Iran's true nuclear accomplishments now when it mattered most

“The Israelis told us it would be a cheap war with many benefits,” a U.S. government consultant with close ties to Israel said. “Why oppose it? We’ll be able to hunt down and bomb missiles, tunnels, and bunkers from the air. It would be a demo for Iran.”

A Pentagon consultant said that the Bush White House “has been agitating for some time to find a reason for a preëmptive blow against Hezbollah.” He added, “It was our intent to have Hezbollah diminished, and now we have someone else doing it.” (As this article went to press, the United Nations Security Council passed a ceasefire resolution, although it was unclear if it would change the situation on the ground.)

Both Israel and Hezbollah have agreed to a cease fire starting tomorrow, 8-14-06, but are still warring right up until the last second

Unfortunately for Israel, if they couldn't wipe out Hezbollah, or even disrupt it severely enough to put a major dent in the Hezbollah rocketings into Israel-a truly intolerable situation-in the weeks since the conflict went white hot, chances are not good for that Israeli aim to be accomplished.

“If the most dominant military force in the region—the Israel Defense Forces—can’t pacify a country like Lebanon, with a population of four million, you should think carefully about taking that template to Iran, with strategic depth and a population of seventy million,” Armitage said. “The only thing that the bombing has achieved so far is to unite the population against the Israelis.”

And that last sentence sums it up-The Bush Jr Administration made another military strategy fiasco by thinking Israel's collective punishment of the Lebanese civilians would somehow cause them to turn against Hezbollah

A truly stupid move, as the reason Hezbollah is influential in Lebanon's politics is that they're providing badly needed social services, like education, food and health care, for those on the bottom rung of Lebanon's economic ladder

Of course that's not altruism on the part of Hezbollah to provide those social services, it's literally buying goodwill from people who have nothing to lose by going along with such a transparent ploy, but since Hezbollah's the ONLY entity that's helped so many of the Lebanese, why would anyone think those physically helped by the terrorist group would suddenly turn on Hezbollah?

Unfortunately, by Israel's bombing the living hell out of Lebanon's infrastructure and civilians in places where there was actually a majority opinion against Hezbollah-with the full and unblinking support of the Bush jr Administration-just the opposite effect occured: Those who were against Hezbollah before the bombings have now rallied around the group and it's missions

The initial plan, as outlined by the Israelis, called for a major bombing campaign in response to the next Hezbollah provocation, according to the Middle East expert with knowledge of U.S. and Israeli thinking. Israel believed that, by targeting Lebanon’s infrastructure, including highways, fuel depots, and even the civilian runways at the main Beirut airport, it could persuade Lebanon’s large Christian and Sunni populations to turn against Hezbollah, according to the former senior intelligence official. The airport, highways, and bridges, among other things, have been hit in the bombing campaign. The Israeli Air Force had flown almost nine thousand missions as of last week. (David Siegel, the Israeli spokesman, said that Israel had targeted only sites connected to Hezbollah; the bombing of bridges and roads was meant to prevent the transport of weapons.)

Hersh also points out that the Bush Jr Administration was hoping that a successful Israeli aerial campaign could also be applied to a US air-attack against Iran. At this point, it seems obvious that the Bush Jr Administration is desirous of hitting Iran and Syria, although it seems obvious that launching aggressive military airstrikes and actions against innocent civilians don't cause a drop in public support of the Govt being attacked, rather, itusually causes a clearly disaffected populace into rallying around leaders they'd otherwise be trying to depose or vote out of office

Cheney’s office supported the Israeli plan, as did Elliott Abrams, a deputy national-security adviser, according to several former and current officials. (A spokesman for the N.S.C. denied that Abrams had done so.) They believed that Israel should move quickly in its air war against Hezbollah. A former intelligence officer said, “We told Israel, ‘Look, if you guys have to go, we’re behind you all the way. But we think it should be sooner rather than later—the longer you wait, the less time we have to evaluate and plan for Iran before Bush gets out of office.’ ”

Cheney’s point, the former senior intelligence official said, was “What if the Israelis execute their part of this first, and it’s really successful? It’d be great. We can learn what to do in Iran by watching what the Israelis do in Lebanon.”

A great plan, but unfortunately, one that broke the military dictum of "hope for the best, plan for the worst", but in an especially ridiculously easy way to predict when the Lebanese civilians started getting blown to pieces and crushed in wave after wave of Israeli bombings. The US counted on it's public allies in the middle east-Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Iraq-to publicly support the Israelis no matter what

However, with the gruesome images of mangled civilians-ESPECIALLY children-started running throughout the Arab & Muslim world, there was no way those allies could stay out of their citizens ire, so being publicly upbraided by it's own allies is yet another misstep by this clueless Administration

The long-term Administration goal was to help set up a Sunni Arab coalition—including countries like Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and Egypt—that would join the United States and Europe to pressure the ruling Shiite mullahs in Iran. “But the thought behind that plan was that Israel would defeat Hezbollah, not lose to it,” the consultant with close ties to Israel said. Some officials in Cheney’s office and at the N.S.C. had become convinced, on the basis of private talks, that those nations would moderate their public criticism of Israel and blame Hezbollah for creating the crisis that led to war. Although they did so at first, they shifted their position in the wake of public protests in their countries about the Israeli bombing. The White House was clearly disappointed when, late last month, Prince Saud al-Faisal, the Saudi foreign minister, came to Washington and, at a meeting with Bush, called for the President to intervene immediately to end the war. The Washington Post reported that Washington had hoped to enlist moderate Arab states “in an effort to pressure Syria and Iran to rein in Hezbollah, but the Saudi move . . . seemed to cloud that initiative.”

The surprising strength of Hezbollah’s resistance, and its continuing ability to fire rockets into northern Israel in the face of the constant Israeli bombing, the Middle East expert told me, “is a massive setback for those in the White House who want to use force in Iran. And those who argue that the bombing will create internal dissent and revolt in Iran are also set back.”

And yet, in spite of the clear and overwhelming evidence that Israel's air & ground offensives against Lebanon and it's infrastructure has had the exact opposite intended effect by rallying the populace around Hezbollah, this Administration seems bound and determined to remain willfully ignorant by thinking it's got the key to success to bring Iran to heel, a key that's eluded the Bush Jr Administration's Iraq quagmire-But there are some real world problems that W just can't get around, problems that trump the neocons call for outright genocide of as many Muslims as possible

The Pentagon consultant told me that intelligence about Hezbollah and Iran is being mishandled by the White House the same way intelligence had been when, in 2002 and early 2003, the Administration was making the case that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. “The big complaint now in the intelligence community is that all of the important stuff is being sent directly to the top—at the insistence of the White House—and not being analyzed at all, or scarcely,” he said. “It’s an awful policy and violates all of the N.S.A.’s strictures, and if you complain about it you’re out,” he said. “Cheney had a strong hand in this.”


Nonetheless, some officers serving with the Joint Chiefs of Staff remain deeply concerned that the Administration will have a far more positive assessment of the air campaign than they should, the former senior intelligence official said. “There is no way that Rumsfeld and Cheney will draw the right conclusion about this,” he said. “When the smoke clears, they’ll say it was a success, and they’ll draw reinforcement for their plan to attack Iran.”

That plan is now dead, definitely before the November elections, and more than likely afterwards as well

The most obvious problem with any US attack on Iran is the same one the Israelis faced with this most recent military campaign-Bombing alone does not usually achieve the desired military and political objectives sought, and almost always leads to the option that's least popular with the populace

Ground Troops

First, how will the needed ground troops be supplied for any Iran campaign, seeing as how heavy the US is bogged down in Iraq?

Second, since an attack on Iran will draw a military response from Syria as well-it's widely believed that both countries entered into a mutual defense pact, so an attack on one will draw a military response from the other-Just where will the troops needed to occupy both Iran and Syria come from, short of reinstituting the draft-and even the GOP knows just how toxic that concept is, as a draft is almost political suicide for the politician that proposes it and the party that backs it?

And if we were to draw Iran and Syria into a military conflict, their easiet targets to retaliate against are those US troops pinned down in Iraq, in effect, those US troops-armed hostages in this vile scenario-would have to battle insurgents, death squads, militias, terrorists in training, and then two more militaries as well

There is absolutely NO way the US public would ever go along with making the Troops even bigger pieces of bait than this Administration has already made of them

And considering how much domestic fire the Bush Jr Administration is taking on account of the Oil industry's record profits and price-gouging, there are also other unpleasant realities that even the most fervent Administrative acolytes couldn't spin in a more positive, favorable way

A high-level American military planner told me, “We have a lot of vulnerability in the region, and we’ve talked about some of the effects of an Iranian or Hezbollah attack on the Saudi regime and on the oil infrastructure.” There is special concern inside the Pentagon, he added, about the oil-producing nations north of the Strait of Hormuz. “We have to anticipate the unintended consequences,” he told me. “Will we be able to absorb a barrel of oil at one hundred dollars? There is this almost comical thinking that you can do it all from the air, even when you’re up against an irregular enemy with a dug-in capability. You’re not going to be successful unless you have a ground presence, but the political leadership never considers the worst case. These guys only want to hear the best case.”

Unfortunately for the Administration, while they may wish to hear only the good news, there's no logical way to positively spin the negatives this latest round of hostilities have inflicted on the President and his few remaining public allies in the middle east and around the world

What the Administration was pushing for here was Israel expanding it's military offensive against Iran and Syria, with the US jumping in after that step was accomplished

Apparently, even the Israelis weren't all too keen on expanding their conflict into Iran or Syria, which really knocked the Administration on its heels, as without Israel's military taking on Iran & Syria, the Administration is left with exactly ZERO military cards to play now

And as it is, if things get to the point of a four-way struggle in Iraq, the Administration will have it's hands even more full than before. Turkey is making noise about invading Northern Iraq to battle the Kurds. The Shia, being the largest number of Iraqis, could very well decide to attack the Kurds as well in the North, and the Sunni down in the South at the same time

If the US has troops in Iraq should such a four-way dance break out, W will have no choice but to finally admit just what a disaster his Iraq invasion and occupation have become to anyone not willfully ignorant enough to pretend otherwise, which means a total and humiliating withdrawal from Iraq, one that will inflict even more damage on the US psyche than Vietnam did

So, let's review

Hezbollah, instead of being fatally weakened, is firing more rockets than ever into Israel, and will emerge stronger than before, for being the first army or fighting force of any kind to withstand a direct and punishing Israeli assault

Hezbollah's leader Nasrallah is riding a huge tidal wave of support, and, ridiculous as I find this comparison, is being mentioned as "Another Nasser"

And once again, the President's "Go It Alone" style undercuts him when he needs the rest of the world to bail him out of yet another fine mess he's made of things

That Israel will not be warring directly with Iran and Syria is good news for all but the radical neocons who constantly push this Administration to expand it's military occupations, a blood-fueled fantasy that by military power alone the US can intimidate any and all other countries with untold physical ruin

Of course, stopping that card from going Nuclear are Russia and China, two superpowers that have the ability to instantly rain down the same nuclear ruin on the US that we do on everyone else. Now W may be an idiot, but he's clearly not suicidal, and that alone ensures no nuclear options will be pursued in the least

Basically, the Israelis decided that throwing in the towel at this point is far more preferable than going to war for the radical neocons who make up Bush Jr's Administration, which means the US will NOT be attacking Syria and Iran

Once again, W's decision to invade and occupy Iraq has blown up in W's face, and rightly so


  • Unless what the neocons really want is chaos in the ME, in which case they are winning.

    By Anonymous Kewalo, at 9:11 PM  

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