Defending the virtues of liberty, free markets, and civilization... plus some commentary on the passing scene.
Friday, August 18, 2006
What Cease Fire?
So we're in the midst of a cease-fire and both Israel and The Hez are claiming victory. Whatever. At this point, it is too early to say who won and lost. One thing that I can say with confidence though is that Hezbollah will not hold up their end of the bargain and disarm. Maybe that isn't a bad thing. When Israel left Lebanon in 2000 it was under the agreement that the UN would contain Hezbollah in the south and not allow them to arm and build. That didn't happen as evidence by the thousands of missiles that were launched towards Israeli cities.
I think Israel's best option is to let the UN take over (again!). Watch them fail and finally go in and do the job themselves. As Strategy Page notes:
August 16, 2006: The success of the ceasefire in Lebanon hinges on a condition that Lebanon and Hizbollah both insist will not happen. Hizbollah is supposed to disarm, but says bluntly that it will not do so. The Lebanese government says it will not force Hizbollah to disarm. So what's going to happen? It appears that Israel is going to hold the UN responsible for carrying out its peace deal, and disarm Hizbollah. To that end, Israel will withdraw its troops from Lebanon, and leave it to UN peacekeepers to do what they are obliged to do.
The Israeli strategy appears to be to allow the UN deal to self-destruct. If the UN peacekeepers can disarm Hizbollah, fine. If not, Israeli ground troops will come back in and clear everyone out of southern Lebanon. At that point, it will be obvious that no one else is willing, or able, to deal with the outlaw "state-within-a-state" that Hizbollah represents. Hizbollah will still exist after being thrown out of southern Lebanon, and it will be up to the majority of Lebanese, and the rest of the Arab world, to deal with Hizbollah and radical Shias.
Hizbollah suffered a defeat. Their rocket attacks on Israel, while appearing spectacular (nearly 4,000 rockets launched), were unimpressive (39 Israelis killed, half of them Arabs). On the ground, Hizbollah lost nearly 600 of its own personnel, and billions of dollars worth of assets and weapons. Israeli losses were far less.
Read the rest.
Thursday, August 17, 2006
Keyser Soze, Game Theory, and Commitment
Who can bring these all together in one powerfully insightful post? Who else.
Tuesday, August 15, 2006
A few comments that are worth linking to:
First Victor Davis Hanson responds to an angry reader:
Q: Mr. Hanson:
Iraq , Lebanon , and the West Bank are a mess and show the failures of the Bush neocons. Aren't you ashamed of yourself for throwing your lot in with these losers?
Hanson's answer: What a flawed question!
So let me answer at first by just posing a few of my own. Was Saddam's Iraq or Arafat's West Bank, or the last 20 years in Lebanon quiet? Did Clinton 's operation Desert Fox, no-fly-zones, or response to bombings from New York to Yemen make us safer? Was Oslo the answer to the Middle East ? Did you object to an Iraqi elected Prime Minister addressing Congress - preferring instead perhaps Tariq Aziz? And did Hezbollah suddenly arm itself during the Bush administration, or in fact snub its nose at the U.N. and the U.S. for years?
What we have now is at least clarity. We know now after Gaza and Lebanon that the Middle East problem in not about occupied land; we know there is no such thing as a "moderate" wing of Hezbollah or Hamas. We know it does no good to sit on the tarmac in Damascus and beg Syria to be nice. And we know Arabs, if given a chance, for example in Iraq , will risk their lives to fight for their own democracy against terrorism.
Finally, we know that the world knows it is a dangerous thing to attack the United States - unlike the sorry state of affairs from 1979 to 2001. As far as necons - what does that mean now other than a phony slur about Jews? Feith, Perle, Wolfowitz, etc. are the new bogeymen along with the resurrection of the old slur that we are fighting Israel 's battles. In fact, Israel is more likely fighting our cause against Islamists. And what does "neocon" mean, other than "new conservative," or in the realm of foreign policy, offering something a little bit more sincere than the old realpolitik?
And this from TallDave, who would probably be happy to know that he is sharing billing with Hanson, even if it is just on my blog. This anecdotal, but I've been hearing more and more the sentiments along the lines of "I would have (or did) support the war in Iraq, but I think we just went about it the wrong way." Sorry, I find that kind of argument juvenile and unconstructive. Dave explains in this comment:
There's a fallacy of omnipotence endemic to Iraq analysis, which constantly assumes "Oh, if the coalition had just done things differently, things would be better," generally based on specious reasoning. All of the problems Iraq has would almost certainly have arisen regardless of our actions.
And things could be a hell of a lot worse. Shias could have risen up en masse against the Coalition. Iraqis could have demanded theocracy and rejected democracy instead of turning out in shocking numbers to vote. Sunnis could have refused to participate in the gov't. Kurds could have demanded partition. Shias and Kurds could have officially organized massive death squads and executed hundreds of thousands of Sunnis in retaliation for the slaughter they experienced. Iraq could be ruled by a dictator instead of an elected assembly. All of those things were predicted by people who are allegedly serious observers.
Things to remember:
1) Most importantly, there is no force representing a serious military threat to the current gov't. Attacks are deadly, but barely above nuisance-level in strategic terms, and not remotely in the league of ability to topple a gov't. It would be nearly impossible to "lose the war."
2) Iraq has a dramatically increased measure of political freedom (from the bottom to around 5 on the IPF scale, making it one of the freest countries in the Mideast). This is constantly forgotten or minimized. Under Saddam there could be no women's rights groups, no free press, no right to free speech.
3) The violence Iraqis experience today, even at its worst, does not compare to the Saddam era when an average of 50,000 to 100,000 people per year were killed and four wars were started by the regime
Friday, August 11, 2006
Via Dean Esmay (I even copied his post title) comes more footage of the famed Green Helmet guy carrying more dead children for the cameras.
(Remember Green Helmet guy? He's featured prominently in this post that I linked to Wednesday, which has been updated and is worth another look, wailing lady has also made a few more appearances.)
This is raw footage however and shows him loading a dead child into an ambulance, then removing the body, directing the camera to take another and better shot, and then finally re-loading the body after posing the corpse for the camera of course. Oh and there is even a picture of him doing this 10 years ago! Disgusting.
Click on over to Dean's World and watch the video there because I have no idea how to post it here.
Oh and the times being what they are, he's also found time to start his own blog.
Wednesday, August 09, 2006
Well, the mainstream media is really playing the role of useful idiots for Hezbollah's public relations campaign. Charles Johnson is again at the tip of the spear in uncovering doctored and staged photos. There are too many links to post, but start with this very thorough background of all questionable photos. It's jawdropping, and were this not so serious, the fraud would be incredibly comical. Some of these pictures and captions are simply absurd taken as a whole. Go read it all.
Moreover, Hezbollah is threatening reporters:
Party of God threatens to kill reporters. Richard Engel of NBC news admits:
"They've not tried to stop us filming other events while we're in the field, but they have, on several occasions, threatened reporters here in Tyre, south Lebanon. From the location where we're standing right now, we've been able to see, today and on other days, outgoing Katyusha rockets. And on more than one occasion people from Hezbollah have come and said, "Do not film the locations of these rockets when they're being launched."
At one time, when we were talking and having a conversation with this Hezbollah representative, he said, "Look, we're serious, we will kill you if you film these outgoing rockets." So it is a threat, but when we've been out in the field, we've not had situations where they told us to stop filming.
There is much much more, all of it very telling.
(links via InstaPundit)
Tuesday, August 08, 2006
Recently returning Israeli soldiers describe fighting against Hezbollah. I encourage you to read the whole thing, but in light of some comments I made yesterday I took particular note of this passage:
Another soldier said that serving in the Palestinian militant stronghold of Jenin in the West Bank, as he had, was nothing compared with fighting Hezbollah's guerrillas. "It was horrible," he said. "You don't know what it's like, with every second a rocket- propelled grenade shooting over your head."
A third soldier said: "All the time, they fired missiles at us. They never come face to face, just missiles. When we find them we kill them. It's just not right, the way we are doing it. Our air force can just bomb villages and not risk our lives fighting over there."
So why doesn't Israel simply pound Hezbollah into submission from the safe distance of the air and not risk soldiers' lives? And the answer of course, is because they are doing their best to prevent civilian casualties in Lebanon even if it means a marked increase in the risk of their own soldiers' lives and of their own civilian population. Every day that the war drags on is another day that Hezbollah has to rain missiles down on Israel.
Got that? One side is purposefully targeting civilians. The other side is taking on more risk to her own civilians and soldiers to preserve at least some modicum of civility.
Yet, guess which side catches the brunt of criticism from the international intelligentsia.
Monday, August 07, 2006
Random Thoughts on Escalation
How sad. The war is escalating and that is bad for civilians, but I'm not sure there is a way around it. Hezbollah and their puppet masters Iran and Syria seem to really want a war with Israel, fought in Lebanon of course, and that is what they are getting. The more Israeli population centers get hit with missiles though the more they (Israeli pop.) are going to insist on less restraint in the response. 'Make it stop by any means necessary,' will eventually be their cry.
The longer a war drags on, the more brutal it becomes. In 1940 the United States refused to bomb German cities, but by 1945 medals, not reprimands, were awarded to those bombers who dropped incendiaries on thousands of civilians..... and we correctly refer to them as the "Greatest Generation." Ponder that.
I'm with Dave Price. This is not going to begin to end until Iran and/or Syria feel some direct consequences.
Wednesday, August 02, 2006
War, or War?
Still no cease fire in sight, and sadly that is for the best in terms of prospects for long term peace. Michael Totten, who recently spent 7 months in Lebanon, notes in a must read, but somewhat depressing article that:
Israel and Lebanon (especially Lebanon) will continue to burn as long as Hezbollah exists as a terror militia freed from the leash of the state. The punishment for taking on Hezbollah is war. The punishment for not taking on Hezbollah is war. Lebanese were doomed to suffer war no matter what.
There you have it, the simple, sad reality. For what is Israel supposed to do when Hezbollah crosses its border, kidnaps its soldiers and rains missiles down on its population centers? I know what we would do, I know what we did.
Frankly, Israel is in an existential struggle, and the absurdity of the UN calling for Israeli restraint is, once again, incredibly revealing. The UN is directly responsible for creating today's conditions, for allowing Hezbollah to be armed to the gills, and that fact deserves much more scrutiny than it is so far receiving.
But, Claudia Rosett is on the case in this must read piece.
Hezbollah deliberately provoked this war on July 12 by kidnapping Israeli soldiers inside Israel's borders, and has been launching rockets into Israel from a massive arsenal that under U.N. writ Hezbollah is not even supposed to possess. That was not the deal under which Israel, in keeping with U.N. wishes, withdrew entirely from southern Lebanon in 2000. The U.N. promise was that Hezbollah would be defanged and that U.N. peacekeepers would help the Lebanese government reestablish control over Hezbollah-infested terrain inside Lebanon.
Over the past six years, Israel honored its commitment to peace. The U.N. — disproportionately — required in practice no such compliance on the Lebanese side of the border. The "peacekeepers" of the U.N. Interim Force in Lebanon, called UNIFIL, sat passively looking on, costing about $100 million a year and doing nothing to stop Hezbollah from trucking in weapons, digging tunnels, and running the armed protection rackets with which it has kept a grip on swathes of Lebanon, including the southern border with Israel, parts of the Bekaa, and southern Beirut. Before the current fighting, UNIFIL had most recently distinguished itself for a run-of-the-U.N.-mill financial swindle involving a contingent of Ukrainian peacekeeping troops. On that subject, whatever laws might have been violated, the U.N. has — as usual with U.N. scams — refused to release details. Now, UNIFIL peacekeepers have been reduced to casualties of the crossfire, while Secretary-General Kofi Annan urges that we take what the U.N. has done wrong already, and do more of it.
...These latest exercises in disproportion begin, of course, with U.N. officials ritually condemning all parties. With that sleight of hand, they conjure the baseline U.N. fallacy known as moral equivalence. In that U.N. scheme of the universe, a democratic society that is attacked while honoring U.N. agreements is treated as no different from its death-cult rule-violating terrorist attackers. But — and here we get to the U.N.'s real dark arts — having set up that bizarre equation, U.N. officials then proceed with their "proportionate" calculus, lavishing their further innuendos, sly criticisms, or, in some cases, outright denunciations on Israel. These comments — biased or even inane though some of them are — echo especially loud in the so-called international community because they come from officials flashing a U.N. badge.
Read the whole biting column.