Friday, July 14, 2006

 

Big Trouble

Where to start after a week's R&R?

I'll open with Hezbollah, fast becoming the ME's newest pariah. Even the Saudis are telling them they're on their own in their "uncalculated adventures". The last few years have shown Arab countries that the U.S. isn't quite the paper tiger Osama thought it was, and they are loathe to mess with a resolute Israel. Given that Arab staying power against Israeli and American forces is historically somewhere between three weeks and three hours, it's safe to say that Hezbollah is right where Israel wants them: stuck in Lebanon, with no way out and no cavalry on the way.

Lebanon faces a choice between taking control of its sovereignty by disarming Hezbollah or allowing the IDF to do their work for them, but that may be moot given Iran's part in all of this as Hezbollah's puppetmaster; the Lebanese government certainly has no say in the matter of Israel vs. Iran, but I wish them well.

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AP: The Vatican has released a statement that "strongly deplored Israel's strikes on Lebanon, saying they were 'an attack' on a sovereign and free nation."

No mention in that statement about the "attack" on the "sovereign and free nation" of Israel by Hezbollah that prompted Israel's actions. No news here, then: the Vatican still "deplores" Israel's policy of defending herself not with the terror-apologist's shibboleth of "proportionality" but with overwhelming force, which is how to defeat Islamic fascism.

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Hamas kills two Israeli soldiers and kidnaps a third. Hezbollah kidnaps two Israeli soldiers, kills eight more, then declares war on Israel. Israel attacks Hezbollah to attain the soldiers' release. H&H cry foul like the cowardly babies they are, while indiscriminately showering Israeli civilians with rockets and missiles. Iran plots. Assad hides. Israel isolates Hezbollah in Lebanon. What to do?

Have no fear; The Old Grey Mare has the solution: send the IDF home, make Hezbollah promise to be nice, and then let the U.N. take over. It might even pass as mediocre satire if its writer, the befuddled Michael Young, wasn't actually serious. The NYT isn't just working against President Bush in the war on Islamofascism; they are now effectively on the side of Hamas and Hezbollah against Israel. Give them points for consistency.

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Serious adult commentary can be found in JPost editor David Horovitz' "Israel at war":
There are those who have branded this latest conflict a continuation of Israel's War of Independence, and there is no little truth in the assertion. On both of the fronts on which Israel has been drawn into heavy fighting, its enemies can make no legitimate claim to be pursuing a territorial dispute: as of last summer, Israel relinquished its hold on the Gaza Strip; in Lebanon, it pulled back to the UN-certified international border six years ago.

Except that, in both cases, the Jewish state's assailants are indeed pursuing a territorial ambition - to unseat Israel from its own sovereign lands.

Israel has watched Hizbullah build up its offensive capability in the years since the security zone was dismantled - watched it, ever bolder, establishing its positions up against the border fence and saw it developing its missile capability - and chose not to act. That stance was misinterpreted as weakness.

Wednesday morning's cross-border attack, complete with the barrage of shelling and rocket fire that served as cover, highlighted the IDF's intolerable absence of room for maneuver in such circumstances. And an Israeli government with a defense minister who had genuinely hoped to oversee a return to the peace path was obligated to militarily "change the rules of the game."

Hizbullah is a wily and well-prepared enemy, all-too-demonstrably capable of wreaking a degree of havoc in northern Israel and beyond, and the goal of dismantling its offensive capacity will not be easily achieved.

Thursday's air onslaught certainly impacted Lebanon's civilian infrastructure; it is less clear how deeply Hizbullah was harmed.

Still, in contrast to the asymmetrical struggles against terror cells and Kassam rocket crews, the IDF has now been unleashed in a context where it can expect to use more of its strengths. And woe betide a nation under attack inside its sovereign borders if it does not decisively prevail.
Also read Charles Krauthammer's Israel's Existence at Stake:
What's the grievance here? Israel withdrew from Lebanon completely in 2000. It was so scrupulous in making sure that not one square inch of Lebanon was left inadvertently occupied that it asked the U.N. to verify the exact frontier defining Lebanon's southern border and retreated behind it. This "blue line'' was approved by the Security Council, which declared that Israel had fully complied with resolutions demanding its withdrawal from Lebanon.

Grievance satisfied. Yet what happens? Hezbollah has done to South Lebanon exactly what Hamas has done to Gaza: turn it into a military base and terrorist operations center from which to continue the war against Israel. South Lebanon bristles with Hezbollah's ten-thousand Katyusha rockets that put northern Israel under the gun. Fired in the first hours of fighting, just 85 of these killed two Israelis and wounded over 100 in Israel's northern towns.

Over the last six years, Hezbollah has launched periodic raids and rocket attacks into Israel. Israeli retaliation has led to the cessation of these provocations -- until the next time convenient for Hezbollah. Wednesday was such a time. One terror base located in fully unoccupied Arab territory (South Lebanon) attacks Israel in
support of another terror base in another fully unoccupied Arab territory (Gaza).

Why? Because occupation was a mere excuse to persuade gullible and historically ignorant Westerners to support the Arab cause against Israel. The issue is, and has always been, Israel's existence. That is what is at stake.

The Washington Times' Wesley Pruden notes Israeli Ambassador Danny Ayalon's comments to the National Press Club:
Daniel Ayalon, the Israeli ambassador to Washington, offered a warning to Iran in blunt, forceful language yesterday at a session with reporters at the National Press Club: "They are playing with fire, and will bear the consequences." This is not the usual diplo-speak, but a warning in language that thugs and primitives better understand.

Mr. Ayalon, choosing his words carefully, calls the present crisis "a historic, dangerous juncture." The threat, as is clear to anyone brave enough to look the ugly reality square in the face, is the radical Islamification of the Middle East, forced by an Iranian regime that is backward, totalitarian and dictatorial. "All this," the ambassador says, "and nuclear weapons, too."

Most of the rest of the world is, as usual, either trying to make Israel the villain, or trying to sleep. The United Nations Security Council, ever on the scout for ways to equivocate in the face of moral challenge, would have adopted a resolution condemning Israel yesterday but for a veto by the United States. Four other nations, displaying the irresolution that is the courage of cowards, abstained. Israel's neighbors, who have the most to lose if the radicalized "religion of peace" prevails in the Middle East, displayed their usual manliness. Greece called the Israeli response to the kidnapping of its soldiers on Israeli soil, and the continued rocket attacks on Israeli cities, "excessive." (The bad guys are only terrorists, after all, not Turks.)

President Bush, in Germany to pay court to Angela Merkel, quickly said the right thing. Israel has the right to defend itself, and the blame for the escalation of violence is rightly on Hezbollah, the terrorists who crossed the border earlier this week to seize the two soldiers. Even Mrs. Merkel, whose government often employs timidity in the face of challenge, agreed that Israel and its tormentors do not share equal blame. "I think that one needs to be careful to make a distinction between the root causes and the consequences of something." (One certainly do, as the Hon. Fats Domino might say.)

Mr. Bush is concerned, however, that in its determination to protect itself Israel
should not destroy the new government in Lebanon, which is distinctly wary of Syria, which has treated Lebanon as its doxy of convenience for a generation. The Israelis shelled Beirut's international airport whence the rockets arrive from Syria, where they are manufactured.

Syria, as well as Iran, is playing the deadly game. Much of the Hamas administration of the Palestinian government, such as it is, has run to hide in Damascus. Khaled Mashaal, the leader of Hamas, preaches now from a Damascus pulpit. Sample: "Tomorrow our nation will sit on the throne of the world. This is not a figment of the imagination, but a fact. Tomorrow we will lead the world, Allah willing. Apologize today, before remorse will do you no good." Pretty big talk for a fat man on the run, but the Israelis understand that even a fat man on the run is dangerous with his finger on a trigger. It's the lesson the rest of the world has not yet learned.

HT: Power Line

Austin Bay rounds up analysis of the confrontation between Hezbollah and Israel.

So does Belmont Club.

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Just an observation: once the IDF has crushed the last remnants of Hezbollah, maybe they'll do Iran and Syria the same favor they are doing for Lebanon and kill the leadership in Tehran and Damascus.

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Funny take on the latest leftist-crybaby blogger meltdown. St. Andrew Of The Aching Heart has competition.

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On Hamden: The Supreme Court has deigned to abscond not only with the President's treaty-making powers but his policy-making powers as well, but Geneva-Conventions-for-terrorists fans shouldn't take much heart from any of it, including the White House's announcement that it would extend Geneva rights to its prisoners. Missing from the discussion is the presence in the Hamden decision of dissenting opinions that set up the pins for a strike down the road against the entire judgement.

An eloquent debate proceeds at NRO, but it largely concerns Hamden's implications vis-a-vis the division of wartime powers between Congress and the President. I'm more interested in the decision as political asset come election time both this year and in '08, and in the possible forms a precedential challenge may take, because that is certainly in the future. Geneva rights for the enemy will have the effect of more enemy killed than taken prisoner, which is a big positive in my opinion, but it also helps set up a challenge to the court's decision, which is open to criticism on so many fronts. The Bad News for Idiots is that the back door out of the Hamden decision is wide open and will remain so.

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Gillermania!

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Ace brings it: American politics in a single picture.

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