Friday, August 11, 2006

Picking Up The Pieces

Ehud Olmert is insane. His governing coalition is insane. The Israeli voters who elected them are insane. Operation Summer Rains is insane by objective measure and even against its own premises. It is also pointless. Hamas was only able to kidnap IDF soldiers because Israel retreated from Gaza. Olmert has responded with an invasion that has no strategic purpose, will only incur renewed Western pressure upon him to withdraw and make more crippling concessions to the Pals - to which he has already committed! - and allow the Hamasites to escape the rare-as-hen's-lips international scrutiny of the past few months, and probably get back their Western subsidies.And all because he went into it settling for half-measures.

-Me, six weeks ago

Okay, I was talking about the long-forgotten Israeli "incursion" into the Gaza Strip, not the subsequent Battle of Lebanon versus Hezbollah, but the basic premise still applies. And now it's reached its more or less inevitable conclusion: a US-imposed cease-fire (with a UN fig leaf) that has handed at least qualified victory to Iran's catspaw.

Using Cap'n Ed's general template, let's go over the highlights and lowlights.

The points adopted in this proposal say nothing of an immediate withdrawal by Israel, nor does it link the war to the issue of Lebanese criminals in Israeli prisons, the motivation for starting the war in the first place.
I don't think it matters when Israel withdraws from southern Lebanon (again). Whether it was immediate or eventual, the point is that Hezbollah has not been defeated, nor really even rooted out of their fortifications along the Lebanese-Israeli border. When the IDF does withdraw, all the Hezbos have to do is rearm and they're back in business.

Similarly, I don't think that "Sheik" Nassrallah not getting his prisoner exchange is of any great significance. That was just his pretext for starting this war, and his division's success in fighting the IDF to a stalemate is of far greater propaganda and strategic value.

It also explicitly puts the blame for the war on Hezbollah - and excludes it from any other legitimation in the document.
Whoop-de-doo. What is to be Hezbollah's punishment? Nothing serious that I can see.

Andy McCarthy disagrees on the "excludes it from any other legitimation," BTW. The resolution addresses Israel and the terrorist gang as equal parties to this "dispute." One could even argue that it implicitly recognizes Hezbollah as the legitimate rulers of Lebanon.

In fact, the resolution requires Hezbollah to cease all hostilities, while it only requires Israel to cease offensive operations. Until Hezbollah stops launching rockets at Israel, the IDF has a free hand to take responsive action to stop them and take out their launch capabilities. In effect, it says that Israel can continue the fight until Hezbollah stops attacking them.
Any operation the IDF takes is considered "offensive" by the "international community." Which will become, once again, quickly apparent when the Hezbos launch their next volley of rockets and missiles.

It says something about how pathetic this resolution is that its biggest selling point is its likely irrelevance and futility. But that assumes that the Hezbos will be stupid enough to ignore it. And they may well be. But if they recognize what a propaganda panacea with which they have been presented, and have the minimal self-discipline to let this cease-fire stick for a few months before launching the next stage of its "Jewnocidal" campaign, this "free hand to the IDF" will wither and drop off like it was leprous - much like Israel itself right about now.

The resolution also demands the end of military support for Hezbollah and the exercise of sovereignty over southern Lebanon by the Lebanese government....The Siniora government will have to control the territory south of the Litani, and according to this agreement, everywhere else in Lebanon, too.
{*sigh*} And how is this "demand" for Hezbollah's disarming to be enforced? By the Lebanese government? If they had the wherewithall, to say nothing of the will, to do that, they already would have, and the Hezbos wouldn't have been in a position to attack Israel in the first place. UNIFIL? They weren't f'ing armed, remember? The reason they're returning "in force" {snicker} is because no member of the international cease-fire chorus wanted to actually participate in the "solution" it was trying to foist upon the lonely nation that would actually have to live with the disastrous consequences.

There is no enforcement mechanism, in short, that does not involve doing the very thing that the IDF was attempting to do - "disarm" Hezbollah by force. Since this resolution's very premise is to prevent that, one can only conclude its the goal is to preserve Hezbollah right where it is. Which is the very situation that led to the past month's fighting.

Hard not to notice a recurring pattern, isn't it?

The agreement makes several flattering references to the seven-point plan put forth by Fuad Siniora, a list of grievances and goals he could easily have copied from a Hezbollah web site.
Hezbo gravy. The very fact of a cease-fire that saves Nasrallah's terrorists from IDF destruction is what really matters, and everybody knows it, even if few will publicly admit it.

Most egregiously, it continues the UNIFIL force as the conductor for the Lebanese Army, despite its decades-long record of incompetence and outright collaboration with Hezbollah. The UN will deploy a much larger UNIFIL force than in the past, up to 15,000 troops, matching the Lebanese Army contingent. It will also have a mandate for force in order to ensure compliance, although given the lack of will shown in UNIFIL and other UN forces in the past, one has to chuckle inwardly at the suggestion.
I don't chuckle inwardly. I laugh outwardly. Also chortle, hyuk, and guffaw. I har-de-har-har in its face. Followed by spitting, pissing, and a Marx Brothers eye-poke for good measure. The UN, which is run by anti-Semites and refuses to this day to even define the word "terrorism," will "conduct" a "Lebanese army" that, to the extent it isn't a "barracks force," is hopelessly shot through with Hezbo sympathizers or outright Hezbo members, in the ostensible "disarmament" of Hezbollah that will purportedly "protect" Israel from being bombed piecemeal out of existence.

C'mon, how can one react any other way BUT with derision? The whole thing is a joke, and a particularly bad one. Talk about "gallows humor".

Mr. Morrissey struggles mightily to put an optimistic face on this debacle:

[B]y agreeing to this cease-fire, Olmert puts pressure on Siniora to do the same and to put Hezbollah in a box. If Siniora refuses, then Olmert orders the incursion. If Nasrallah refuses to accede to Siniora's demand to disarm and withdraw as required by this proposal, Olmert can claim that the Lebanese government is hostage to Nasrallah and act to liberate it. Olmert will have worked the appeasers into a position where they will have endorsed further military action by the collapse of their own peace plan.
Wrong. What will happen then is that there will be even more international pressure for another cease-fire and another UN resolution that tilts even further against Israel, demanding an immediate IDF withdrawal and perhaps even imposing sanctions against the Jewish state. And that presumes that the Olmert regime would finally launch the all-out invasion of Lebanon that he spent the past month trying to avoid. I have little confidence that he would do so assuming Nasrallah was chowder-headed enough to give him the opportunity.

I can see from reviewing my posts about the Battle of Lebanon that I let the line between arguing for what the Israelis should do and analyzing what they would do blur to an unacceptable extent. This ceasefire resolution and Prime Minister Olmert's acceptance of it confirms what I said way back when all this started: he's a squish and a weak-kneed appeaser who hasn't the courage to defend his country even when its survival is at stake.

It wouldn't be fair to say the same of the Israeli people, who were near unanimous in their support for destroying Hezbollah. And Olmert's apparent ignominous capitulation is likely to be the final straw of a plunge into pariahhood that was already well-advanced by the timid, heart-not-in-it way he waged Operation Just Desserts. But they were the ones who elected Olmert and his Kaditha faction, whose explicit mandate was to retreat from the West Bank just as Ariel Sharon foolishly bugged out from Gaza a year ago - the action, I'll remind everybody again, that led directly to Hamas' attack on Israel in late June that started this latest "cycle of violence." As the cynical adage goes, in a democracy voters usually get the kind of government they deserve.

Let's get down to brass tacks. The only reason that Olmert sent the IDF into Gaza and Lebanon is because it would have been political suicide for him not to. This wasn't something he wanted to do, but something he had to do, a reality made all the more evident by the bellicose cover bluster he offered on a semi-daily basis that was persistently undercut by his indiscrete candor about being willing to accept an international peacekeeping force, and open to a "diplomatic solution." Just this very day he began by declaring the latter at an end and the long-awaited full-scale ground invasion to begin, and ended by telling ourselves and the French "Okey-dokey."

Judging by the degree of open disarray in the Israeli government as of this writing, as StratFor reports, Olmert is so bereft of credibility and stroke now that he couldn't order renewed military action even if he wanted to:

There appear to be two basic and competing schools of thought. One argues that Israel cannot defeat Hezbollah without incurring unacceptable losses and re-occupying parts of Lebanon, thereby winding up in a counterinsurgency situation. The other school of thought argues that the price of accepting a cease-fire that leaves Hezbollah intact is much higher than the cost of war.

The interesting thing is that Olmert himself seems to embody both views. On the one hand he is saying that the offensive is on while at the same time asserting that he is inclined to accept the cease-fire. In some ways, either position would be more comforting to Israelis than the apparent vacillation. There had been a belief that Olmert was using this as psychological warfare against Hezbollah, but the view is now spreading that it is doing more damage to the Israeli psyche than to Hezbollah's. [emphases added]

Precisely what you would expect from a "moderate" politician, and exactly what you would expect to see from the government of a defeated country. Or, rather, a country defeated not on the battlefield, but at the negotiating table - where it was not allowed to sit as its fate was being decided by its enemies and its alleged friend. The comparisons to Munich 1938 grow more nauseating by the minute.

Yes, that puts George W. Bush in the role of Neville Chamberlain. And while, again, it wouldn't be entirely fair to go all the way with that parallel (Here is the White House's case for the resolution), one still has to wonder, as Brother Meringoff does....

[I]f....the IDF is the only force truly capable of degrading Hezbollah, then [what is] [the Administration's] excuse for bringing this matter to an end [before] the IDF has made much more progress than it has to date[?]
His conclusion sounds awfully familiar:

[T]he eventual Administration spin on this is probably going to be that it gave Israel plenty of time to crush Hezbollah, but the Olmert government bungled the job. That the Olmert government disappointed seems indisputable. But why should Israel have been given less than a month to undo six years of Hezbollah entrenchment? We've had several years in Iraq and haven't finished the job. My guess is that the Administration just didn't want to take the international heat associated with another month (say) of fighting in Lebanon. If so, that doesn't bode well for its future conduct of the war on terror.
To say the least. After this pre-emptive retreat I'm thinking that a Bush cut & run from Iraq is possible after all. All it would presumably take would be a UN resolution calling for it, along with an international conference for a "comprehensive regional settlement" for Iraq, involving that "force for stability," Iran, and their Syrian stooges. Heck, maybe "Sheik" Nasrallah would be invited to serve as honorary chairman.

Yes, Ehud Olmert wouldn't pick up the ball, and squandered all the time the Bushies gave him to take care of business with the Hezbos. But if the Israeli government was unwilling to do so, that argued for U.S. intervention in Lebanon, not a prissy, spineless cease-fire that can only embolden the mullahgarchy - and vindicate their War Plan R, which appears to be working perfectly.

UPDATE: Today's StratFor bulletin makes mention of a puzzling (to them) confusion in the upper echelons of the Israeli government that isn't explicable by known events:

In looking at Israeli behavior - which has become the most interesting and perplexing aspect of this conflict - we are struck by an oddity. The Israeli leadership seems genuinely concerned about something, and it is not clear what it is. Obviously, the government doesn't want to take casualties, but this is not a political problem. The Israeli public can deal with high casualties as long as the mission - in this case the dismantling of Hezbollah's capabilities - is accomplished. The normal pattern of Israeli behavior is to be increasingly aggressive rather than restrained, and the government is supported.

When a government becomes uncertain, it normally reverts to established patterns. We would have expected a major invasion weeks ago, and we did expect it. Something is holding the Israelis back and it is not simply fear of casualties. The increasing confusion and even paralysis of the Israeli government could be explained simply by division and poor leadership. But we increasingly have the feeling that there is an aspect to Israeli thinking that we do not understand, some concern that is not apparent that is holding them back from doing what they would normally do.

Hezbollah has fought well, but it is hard to believe that the Israelis can't defeat them or that Israel can't take casualties. (Interestingly enough, Iran and Hezbollah, who are aiming for an imminent cease-fire to claim victory in this conflict, have remained silent while the discussion of a coming cease-fire intensifies.) As the pressure to act mounts and Israel doesn't act, the question of what is restraining them becomes increasingly important. We can't speculate on what their concern might be, because we don't know it. However, Olmert is acting as if he doesn't want to become too aggressive, and the reasoning is unclear.

It might be crystal clear if Olmert fears, or the Mossad has gotten intel indicating, that Iran's rumored "big surprise" scheduled for August 22nd is a nuclear attack against Israel if the IDF doesn't agree to call off its "incursion" against Hezbollah. It would also help explain the Jews' curious reluctance to even hiccup at the Syrians, much less the mullahs, despite the unconcealed role of both in sponsoring and supplying of, and exercising operational control over, the Hezbos, and the conspicuous silence from Tehran over the last few days as this cease-fire nonsense moved toward enactment.

I hope and pray I'm wrong. But I really don't think I am. And if that's the case, if Islamist nuclear blackmail is now officially reality, the Western world has passed a Rubicon beyond which it will survive, if at all, only at a horrifying - or perhaps I should say "unimaginable" - cost that will render the averted casualties from Britain's "homegrown" al Qaeda bomb plot a drop in the bucket.

And just think - it happened on George W. Bush's watch.

So much for the "War on Terror." The War OF Terror" has just begun.