Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Say What?

This blog has been a long-time supporter of the Bush Administration, and its efforts to fight terrorism around the globe. We've defended Mr. Bush and his national security team on numerous occasions, recognizing their willingness to tackle the hard jobs of defeating global terrorism and promoting democracy in the Middle East. Accomplishing those goals takes time and considerable patience, and we've been willng to give the White House the benefit of the doubt in pursuing those necessary aims.

But even our support has its limits, and we've been deeply disturbed by the administration's recent handling of the Lebanon crisis, and its analysis of the conflict between Israel and Hizballah. On Monday, for example, Mr. Bush announced that the Israelis had "defeated" the terrorists, without qualifying his remarks. The President's remarks suggested that the IDF had achieved a decisive victory over Hizballah, despite ample evidence to the contrary. What Mr. Bush should have said is that Israel met many of its operational and tactical goals, inflicting severe losses on terrorist forces in south Lebanon. That may sound like Clintonian parsing--and it probably is--but it would be a more accurate assessment than the President's "blanket" victory statement. In reality, Hizballah gained a strategic victory simply by going toe-to-toe with the region's most powerful military for more than a month, and will emerge from the conflict with greater influence than ever in Lebanon and beyond.

If that weren't bad enough, Secretary of State Condolezza Rice followed Mr. Bush's remarks with a rather astounding statement of her own. In an interview with USA Today, the secretary stated that it is "not the job" of the U.N. peacekeeping force to disarm Hizballah guerillas in south Lebanon. Dr. Rice also opined that the 15,000-member U.N. force "will keep the peace" and enforce an international arms embargo against the terrorists."

Say what? Secretary Rice has clearly been spending too much time with our European partners, because such inane comments are worthy of the French foreign minister, or perhaps, his German counterpart. In the span of less than two weeks, the U.S. Secretary of State has signed on to a "cease fire" that jeopardizes Israeli security, and endorsed a peace-keeping plan that ignores the fundamental requirement of disarming Hizballah.

Attempting to explain her position, Dr. Rice noted the difficulty of "disarming" a militia. If Hizballah resists calls to disarm, the secretary suggested that the arms embargo and international pressure could produce the desired effect. She even suggested that the terrorist group would find itself "increasingly isolated" from European and other nations, if it fails to lay down its arms.

Excuse me for a moment.


This is a joke, right? Does Secretary Rice actually believe that a more "robust" peacekeeping force will be any more successful at keeping the peace than its predecessor, which allowed Hizballah to camp next to U.N. positions in south Lebanon? Does she really believe that a terrorist group will voluntarily give up its arms, just to make the Europeans happy? Does she think the presence of Lebanese Army will make a difference? Never mind the fact that Lebanon's vaunted fighting force hasn't been in the area in more than a decade, and it represents a government that includes Hizballah ministers and is heavily influenced by the group. And finally, just for grins, does our Secretary of State believe that anything short of military action can actually stop the flow of arms from Iran and Syria, to the terrorists in Lebanon?

Obviously, the U.S. had hoped that Israel could defeat Hizballah quickly and decisively. That didn't happen, forcing Mr. Bush and Dr. Rice to put the best face on a bad situation. But if the United States government views the current cease fire and "disarmament" plan as an effective policy to deal with a major crises, then the smart boys and girls at the White House and Foggy Bottom are sadly mistaken. Admittedly, the Bush Administration couldn't support indefinite Israeli military operations in Lebanon, but forcing Israel into an ill-conceived "cease fire" and endorsing a fatally flawed security plan suggests that the Bush Administration may be losing its mettle, at the very time that courage and determination are needed in international policy, perhaps more than ever before.


baddog46 said...

It's really hard to be a soldier these days. You want to do the right thing, but...the verbage out of the administration makes us (the U.S.)look like idiots. And when people in other countries ask you why, it's hard to come up with a good answer, which makes you look stupid.

Marcel said...

baddog46; please grow a pair and try to act like a leader.

ropsucks said...

I guess Pres. Bush must try to polish this turd, Israel vs. Hezbollah. The PR and stature war for Nasrallah among Nuslims has grown tremendously. His weapons will be replaced and his followers emboldened. Israel was tentative, worried about killing of civilians and appeared weak to his enemies. Israel would be the goat no matter how they defended themselves. The engagement with Hezbollay will resume shortly and Israel better respond without restraint and unmercifully bring on the pain to these terrorists, if they hope to survive.

Muslihoon said...

Was Israel forced into the cease-fire or did Olmert go along willingly?

SecretAgent said...

It sickened me to hear that Olmert had surrendered to Hezbollah and that's exactly what happened. He allowed the UN and the US to pressure him into something that he should never have agreed to.

It's a dark day folks. Darker times will most certainly follow. I'm with Spook here, either this admin is shifting in "coasting" mode to ride out the last two years or they have completely lost any stones they once had.

When this balloon goes back up I'm hoping the new Israeli PM(Lots of rumbling about Olmert's government going down in the J-post) will have the stones to tell the UN and the US to go screw themselves. Israel has to rid Lebanon of the barbarians.

cynical joe said...

The problems began right at the beginning of the crisis; after the kidnapping of soldiers by Hamas and then Hizbollah, Olmert had to act or his government would look terribly weak. Unfortunately the IDF was not prepared to invade Lebanon and Olmert delayed mobilization while he extemporized with the air attacks. The air offensive didn't do enough damage to Hizbollah but plenty to Lebanese civilian infrastructure: the worst possible outcome. From that point on it was Israel that needed the ceasefire to pull out some kind of accomplishment. They still don't have their soldiers back, they are withdrawing from Lebanon and Hizbollah has survived militarily and strengthened itself politically. What he should have done originally was bite his cheek, exchanged prisoners and THEN mobilize with the warning to Lebanon that the next excursion meant invasion. Hizbollah would not be able to let a challenge like that alone, and then Israel could have squashed them with America's approval.

augurwell said...

I am for the Republic.


There is a campaign of some sort with a poster that uses the slogan 'Shut the Fark Up - We'll Defend America", I don't agree with this idea, I believe a certain amount of discretion is in order yes, BUT NOT the kind of discretion that the NYT etc. employs or fails to employ and that one of our stronger points in the free world is that we exercise this freedom we have to defeat our enemies, I rather go along with 'Loose Lips Sink Ships' campaign.


So even though I support those who are for less government for the more advanced people and for the appropriate amount of government for those who are less advanced, I wonder what the hell is going on in the war against the enemies of freedom? Why aren't we stepping on these Irainians and their proxies and stepping on them hard with a big stick?

I am beginning to seriously consider that we are being black-mailed with some of those missing suitcase nukes from the old soviets' arsenals (12-18 of them I heard once are unaccounted for; [?] ) or maybe we are being black-mailed with one of those few nukes the Nord Koreans have patched together? This might explain the situation - we are in a shooting war with extremists - why have we not engulfed Lebanon and disarmed these terrorists? What the hell is wrong?

Why aren't we as civilised people got it together and say "Look, these are the constitutions that we live under and these are the bills of human rights that free people enjoy that protect us from each other and we are going to put them in place -- so why the hell are we talking when we should be fighting for freedom?/!" Even General Pace was saying there are many forms of diplomacy that we can use? George Bush must have had to make a political deal with some of those off the far right end types or something. I support the Bush Administration but if this is something like during the 1st Gulf war when we backed off when the Iraqi people where going to revolt, when the coalition had Saddam surrounded and whipped -- if this is a case like that and we are being black-mailed not by the Communists of the Soviets -- could it be the Chinese or do the Islamo-fascists have a nuke? Hey, we fear no evil.

Now damn it, with great power comes great responsibility and to me it seems we of the freedom loving countries are in a great state of confusion and deeply in remiss of implementing our responsibilities as leaders of the world to clean up this mess that these primitives have stirred up. Checks and balances out the window when they inhibit right action. This surely is why Churchill said 'Democracy is the worst form of government - except for all others.'

If we are not being black-mailed by somebody with some loose nukes right now, and I think we are, (Or there is some bullshit going on.) we will be in the near future or as soon as 'they' can get their hands on some and I have no doubt that 'they' would use those nukes as soon as they got them. Do you know the facts surrounding the Coventry example?

It's ironic, President Puttin said a few weeks ago that they were not going to get involved in a "Holy Crusade" of some kind. People are still fogged over by these primitive religions. Albert Einstein asked the question when he was trying to figure out something, "How would God do it?" this reminds me that magic is just science by another name.

A nickel's worth.



PS To paraphrase Dave Crocket - 'They can go to hell, I'm going to Israel.'
There was a movie I recall seeing once that in it Frank Sinatra went down to Israel to help out during a war and this is something I consider as well.

This seems like more of that 'something is rotten in Demark'stuff that's been going around.

Rob said...

It looks to me like Olmert lost his nerve.

I think Bush and Blair gave him all the cover he needed to go in and wipe out Hezballah, but instead he went with a half-assed air attack. I don't know if it was a fear of casualties or international pressure or what.

From what I hear from my Israeli friends, Olmert is toast. In fact, this may lead to a major government shake-up in Israel. The population screwed up their courage and said, "OK, we can take it", but Olmert squandered their will.

El Jefe Maximo said...

I completely agree that saying that Israel prevailed is laughable, and that the Olmert government, for whatever reason, no doubt to be dissected in nauseating detail...screwed the pooch.

That said, I think it should be remembered that the US administration is more concerned about the Iranian problem than Israel's difficulties in Lebanon. Olmert got his hunting license; and if Olmert couldn't dispatch Hezbollah in the time allowed (it's not clear to me the Israelis really made the effort) -- then Bush was not going to compromise his own plans to buy them extra time. As stated here, he put the best face on a bad situation.

I think Bush and Rice are desperate, for the moment, to keep the Europeans on board for dealing with Iran. I think this emphasis is misplaced -- the Europeans will not do anything, but for domestic political reasons, Bush thinks he has to make the effort. This is a loser idea, but I think it's where they're coming from.

eatyourbeans said...

I have no experience, expertise, or knowledge of these matters, but sometimes the fool stumbles on things the wise miss. So, in that spirit:

If you look at the matter through the wrong end of the telescope, what you see is an emerging axis of mischief consisting of the energy-rich nations Russia, Iran and Venezuela; add in China as their big customer. A sort of Warsaw Pact of oil. That's a strategic weapon already aimed straight at us.

Iran, by its sucessful use of Hez to diminish Israel, has established itself as a worthy partner in this axis, so I'm afraid we'll see more trouble here.

Then too, Iran's increasing stature in the muslim world may soon make it the Rome of Islam, the spiritual and temporal ruler of a billion of the faithful. Including those living in the west.
(I suppose this cuts both ways. Tehran becomes responsible for every act done in the name of allah, so our missles have a return address. That's something.)

As for nukes, I don't think the plan is to launch them unless they have to. They're for prestiege and an umbrulla under which Iran can slowly, or not so slowly, take control of all mid-east oil. In response we would do....what? Start a nuclear war? I think Russia and China, who live rather close to ground zero, would have strong feelings about that!

For the time being, Israel is more useful alive than dead; it's such a great recruiting tool. But when the oil blockade is up, and the West is at the mercy of Czar Putin and Hugo and Almawhatshisname, it may be the end for that brave little nation.

If Bush & Condi are thinking anything along these lines, then we can excuse their silly boilerplate pronouncements; they got bigger things to worry about. Somehow they have got to wheedle Russia and/or China over to our side. There'll be a price and it won't be payable in fancy talk.

Thanks for letting a civilian rattle on here.

anonymous said...

In the comments there is some question about who pushed who into the cease fire. The fact is that from the very beginning Olmert never wanted a big military operation. From the very beginning he saw military action as a means to a diplomatic solution. He executed this strategy very well with the last minute escallation of the ground invasion to get the best terms possible in the UN resolution, but at this point in time, the strategy itself while executed well, does not seem to have been very wise.

Israel's diplomatic/military strategy is explained at the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affiars web site faq questions 1 and 2.

The web page says, "The purpose of the Israeli operation was two-fold - to free its abducted soldiers, and to remove the terrorist threat from its northern border.

Israel understood from the outset that although military operations were necessary to defend its citizens by neutralizing the threat posed by Hizbullah’s terrorist infrastructure, the eventual solution would indeed be diplomatic.

The components of such a solution were as follows:

# the return of the hostages, Ehud (Udi) Goldwasser and Eldad Regev;
# the effective deployment of the Lebanese army in all of southern Lebanon;
# the expulsion of Hizbullah from the area, and
# the fulfillment of United Nations Resolution 1559.

# the preservation of IDF gains in removing Hizbullah from the border region
# the elimination of the Hizbullah long-range missile threat
# the prevention of Hizbullah’s re-arming by closely monitoring of the possible routes into Lebanon from Syria or elsewhere (an arms embargo)."

ptg said...

One may hope that Bush and Condi are simply trying to give the crooked sissies at the UN enough rope to hang themselves. We don't seem to be able to avoid a messy outcome in the region, so why not have a giant failure with "blame the UN" writ large upon it?

Norman Rogers said...

I am bemused by all of the caterwauling about Israel's "losing" the war.

Here is how things stand (my view):

1. This was a battle, not a war.

2. This was Lebanon vs. Israel (Hezbollah IS Lebanon), and if you count the casualties and battle damages, Israel won by a TKO.

3. No matter how many weapons and how many troops Hezbollah retains, Lebanon will not soon again try to singe Israel's beard.

4. Iran's cards have been played and they have lost. Hezbo spent over half their missiles store and inflicted precious little damage for all their sound and fury. Now the threat is gone. Yes, Hezbo can start firing them again -- but they won't. They didn't work when tested and would work less well if used again (think of the Battle for Britain and the great Blitz).

5. I predict that GWB will link recovery aid to Lebanon with Hezbo disarmament. Lebanon will have to choose: Give up the proxies or squat in your own filth.

6. The IDF has gotten a good lesson (watching the success of the Yanks in Iraq wasn't enough). The IDF will come up with counters to Hezbo's use of wire guided missiles in lieu of tube artillery and will train the troops to avoid sheltering in buildings in sight of enemy positions. And tank commanders will be taught to keep their heads down and their hatches battened. And the IDF will greatly strengthen training of regular troops and reserves. And the IDF will get substantially greater operating funds.

I don't know if Olmert will survive -- and I don't know if he should survive. I need to know more about the advice he was given and the warnings he received (from Rice & co).

But, PLEASE! Chill out! So what if the Hezbillys dance in the street? Smell the rotting corpses in their bunkers and gauge their appetite to rejoin the battle.