Sunday, July 23, 2006

Maintenance of the aim

The last post went a bit off-topic as the rockets got in the way of the strategy. So, a recap. Hezbollah is following, I think, a sort of fleet-in-being strategy. They want to keep their militia and their quasi-state role inside Lebanon, and anything that weakens the Lebanese government is conducive to that. Even being forced to withdraw from the deep south isn't that bad, as the return of Israeli forces there gives Hezbollah back its missing reason to exist. But what are the Israelis hoping to do, apart from exactly what the enemy want them to?

One argument is purely tactical, or tactics-as-strategy. That is that they just want to get the prisoners back and get the rocket fire shut off. The first counterargument is that Ariel Sharon achieved both these by negotiation, and if he did it you can hardly describe it as weak. Another is the official line, that they want the Lebanese government to deal with Hezbollah. Bwaaahaahaaha, as they say. The Lebanese government is going to be lucky to survive Operation LITANI II, and anyway doesn't have the consensus or the strength to do so. (Over at Aqoul, Tom Scudder asks if a list of Lebanese military equipment suggests strength or weakness on the Lebanese army's part. Answer: it's irrelevant.) And if that is the aim, why did they just bomb a TV transmitter miles north of Beirut that is used by LBC - the Christian Lebanese TV station whose chief political commentator was menaced during the revolution for being too anti-Syrian - and a channel owned by the Hariris? Yes, that's as in Rafiq Hariri.

Alternatively, this is just more of a pattern familiar from 2002. Back then, whilst demanding that the PA and PLO "crack down on the terrorists", the Israelis responded to every terrorist incident by bombing Palestinian police stations - culminating when their army besieged the headquarters of the Palestinian secret service and took away the files on the, er, terrorists. Perhaps it's a weird version of our old friend, airpower theory. This is lent credence by the fact that the IDF chief of general staff Dan Halutz is an aviator, for the first time in Tsahal's history. Chris "Back to Iraq" Albritton dishes this policy nicely - after all, if this really worked, why didn't the 11th of September raid make the US public overthrow George W. Bush? More seriously, Chris's reaction is itself proof that it doesn't. He's getting bombed and he's not any happier about it. Further empirical evidence for the criminal stupidity of this strategy is what's happened to Ehud Olmert and Amir Peretz's polls since the rain started a-falling. Two weeks ago, Olmert's approval rating stood at 43 per cent. Now it's 78 per cent. Peretz's have gone from 28 per cent to 61 per cent.

Apart from that, I defer to this post.
Hizbullah: Our little-girls-face-ripping-off missiles answer to God the most merciful, the most compassionate.
Israel: As Golda Meir once said: we do not actually hate them for ripping off our little girls’ faces but for making us rip off their little girls’ faces.
Hizbullah: And let’s not forget the Palestinians, they have lost their land and some of their little girls’ faces.
Israel: Oh that’s from honor killing, if the girls have sex, they rip off the girls’ faces.
{Angry shouting, inaudible}
Mediator{ pounding gavel}: Inadmissible, we are only talking about face-ripping-off-of-girls in war. We are trying to prevent another Mideast Girl Face Ripping Off Free-for-All.
Israel: Millions of Jewish girls have had their faces ripped off out of sheer cruelty and hate; and dozens and dozens of Israeli girls through suicide bombers and terrorists. We will never forget. So we are accidentally ripping off girls’ faces strategically for survival.
Hizbullah: We are compelled to rip off the faces of little girls in order to hasten justice. We will, if necessary, rip off little girls’ faces until justice is complete and the Compassionate One is sovereign and cruelty is banished.
Israel: We are a humane society and we never rip off faces of little girls except by accident. And by the way, they are overcounting their little girls with their faces ripped off.
Read the whole thing. If you want to be really, really depressed.

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