Monthly Archives: July 2006

No Time For "Peace"

Give war a chance.

Ross Kaminski writes:

Israel MUST take the next military step, a ground invasion. It must be made unmistakably clear that groups or countries which launch missiles into Israel, or which capture and kill its soldiers on the Israeli side of the border, will be punished mercilessly. There must be no letup, no quarter, no caving in to Kofi Annan and the other passively or actively anti-Semitic leaders of the “world community”.

We must not buy into the pleasant-sounding but exceptionally dangerous suggestions of internationalist gasbags like Annan, Madeline Albright, and anyone in France, that it is possible to enter into a useful agreement with Hezbollah. Iran has already demonstrated its ability to play the West and all its big talkers like a fiddle, stringing us along while they continue with their plans to become the most dangerous nuclear power on earth. Hezbollah would be no different, using negotiations as a tactical tool to increase their strength under the watchful but apparently unseeing eyes of UN observers.

Israel is fighting for its life. Backing off the military confrontation with Hezbollah at this time, even in the presence of a NATO or UN force in Lebanon, is simply an invitation for Hezbollah to strengthen rapidly and try again.

We should be thankful that this conflict started when it did. In the six years since Israel pulled out of Lebanon, Hezbollah has obviously gotten better and more training, weapons, bunkers, and tactics than anyone had expected. They were clearly building up to a major attack on Israel. Their apparent miscalculation of Israel’s willingness to go to war over a relatively small border incident didn’t seem to bother them very much, and now we know why. They were far more prepared, thanks to Iran and Syria, than even the Israelis with their excellent spy network, believed.

Had this conflict not started for a few more years, the damage they might be doing to Israeli soldiers and Israel itself would be far greater. If a cease-fire is put into place without the decapitation of Hezbollah, they will simply return to that path and the next breakout of fighting will be that much worse for Israel (and particularly its civilian population.)

There is a well-known expression (which I fully understand from my Jewish background) “Two Jews, three opinions”. Yet ninety percent of Israel believes it is right for them to be bombing Lebanon and 80% believe Israel’s offensive should continue. They are absolutely correct. In a part of the world that understands and respects nothing but raw power, stopping now would be tantamount to surrender. It could easily turn into the beginning of the end for Israel as radical anti-Semites take succor in the idea that Israel can be beaten…and Israelis know it.

It seems clear that President Bush and Condoleezza Rice know it too. They are in a difficult position of having to appear to condone civilian collateral damage in Lebanon. They know but can’t say that the Lebanese have to take some responsibility from letting terrorists mingle among them, hiding weapons and fighters in schools, mosques, and civilian neighborhoods. But the Administration’s actions speak clearly: Israel must finish the job.

This is no time for “peace”. A cease-fire now would be a prelude to a much more destructive campaign against the only real democracy and our only real ally in the Middle East. It would send precisely the wrong message to our enemies, and that includes those who are thinking of attacking the US. They will become richer, stronger, and bolder, plotting the right time to try to destroy all we hold dear.

This is no time for “peace”. A cease-fire now would be a prelude to a much more destructive campaign against the only real democracy and our only real ally in the Middle East. It would send precisely the wrong message to our enemies, and that includes those who are thinking of attacking the US. They will become richer, stronger, and bolder, plotting the right time to try to destroy all we hold dear.

This is not just Israel’s war. It is a war for civilization, and Israel must not stop until it is won.

Hiding Behind Children

Cry to those using babies as shields.

Disproportionate

Historical examples of “disproportionate” responses.

Charles Krauthammer writes:

When the United States was attacked at Pearl Harbor, it did not respond with a parallel “proportionate” attack on a Japanese naval base. It launched a four-year campaign that killed millions of Japanese, reduced Tokyo, Hiroshima and Nagasaki to a cinder, and turned the Japanese home islands to rubble and ruin. Disproportionate? No. When one is wantonly attacked by an aggressor, one has every right — legal and moral — to carry the fight until the aggressor is disarmed and so disabled that it cannot threaten one’s security again. That’s what it took with Japan.

Britain was never invaded by Germany in World War II. Did it respond to the blitz and V-1 and V-2 rockets with “proportionate” aerial bombardment of Germany? Of course not. Churchill orchestrated the greatest land invasion in history that flattened and utterly destroyed Germany, killing untold innocent German women and children in the process.

The perversity of today’s international outcry lies in the fact that there is indeed a disproportion in this war, a radical moral asymmetry between Hezbollah and Israel: Hezbollah is deliberately trying to create civilian casualties on both sides while Israel is deliberately trying to minimize civilian casualties, also on both sides.

And Bill Kristol on the fatuous liberal elite.

Making the Jump to Jihad

We’re all Islamists now; we just don’t know it.

What the Islamists Want

Mark Steyn on why it’s not enough for the Islamists to eradicate Israel.

Here’s an excerpt:

A few years back, when folks talked airily about “the Middle East peace process” and “a two-state solution,” I used to say that the trouble was the Palestinians saw a two-state solution as an interim stage en route to a one-state solution. I underestimated Islamist depravity. As we now see in Gaza and southern Lebanon, any two-state solution would be an interim stage en route to a no-state solution.

In one of the most admirably straightforward of Islamist declarations, Hussein Massawi, the Hezbollah leader behind the slaughter of U.S. and French forces 20 years ago, put it this way:

“We are not fighting so that you will offer us something. We are fighting to eliminate you.”

Swell. But, suppose he got his way, what then? Suppose every last Jew in Israel were dead or fled, what would rise in place of the Zionist Entity? It would be something like the Hamas-Hezbollah terror squats in Gaza and Lebanon writ large. Hamas won a landslide in the Palestinian elections, and Hezbollah similarly won formal control of key Lebanese cabinet ministries. But they’re not Mussolini: they have no interest in making the trains run on time. And to be honest who can blame them? If you’re a big-time terrorist mastermind it’s frankly a bit of a bore to find yourself Deputy Under-Secretary at the Ministry of Pensions, particularly when you’re no good at it and no matter how lavishly the European Union throws money at you there never seems to be any in the kitty when it comes to making payroll. So, like a business that’s over-diversified, both Hamas and Hezbollah retreated to their core activity: Jew-killing.

In Causeries du lundi, Charles-Augustin Sainte-Beuve recalls a Parisian dramatist watching the revolutionary mob rampaging through the street below and beaming: “See my pageant passing!” That’s how opportunist Arabs and indulgent Europeans looked on the intifada and the terrorists and the schoolgirl suicide bombers: as a kind of uber-authentic piece of performance art with which to torment the Jews and the Americans. They never paused to ask themselves: Hey, what if it doesn’t stop there?

Well, about 30 years too late, they’re asking it now. For the first quarter-century of Israel’s existence, the Arab states fought more or less conventional wars against the Zionists, and kept losing. So then they figured it was easier to anoint a terrorist movement and in 1974 declared Yasser Arafat’s PLO to be the “sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people,” which is quite a claim for an organization then barely half-a-decade old. Amazingly, the Arab League persuaded the U.N. and the EU and Bill Clinton and everyone else to go along with it and to treat the old monster as a head of state who lacked only a state to head. It’s true that many nationalist movements have found it convenient to adopt the guise of terrorists. But, as the Palestinian “nationalist” movement descended from airline hijackings to the intifada to self-detonating in pizza parlors, it never occurred to their glamorous patrons to wonder if maybe this was, in fact, a terrorist movement conveniently adopting the guise of nationalism.

…Cairo and co grew so accustomed to whining about the Palestinian pseudocrisis decade in decade out that it never occurred to them that they might face a real crisis one day: a Middle East dominated by an apocalyptic Iran and its local enforcers, in which Arab self-rule turns out to have been a mere interlude between the Ottoman sultans and the eternal eclipse of a Persian nuclear umbrella. The Zionists got out of Gaza and it’s now Talibanistan redux.The Zionists got out of Lebanon and the most powerful force in the country (with an ever growing demographic advantage) are Iran’s Shia enforcers. There haven’t been any Zionists anywhere near Damascus in 60 years and Syria is in effect Iran’s first Sunni Arab prison bitch. For the other regimes in the region, Gaza, Lebanon and Syria are dead states that have risen as vampires.

Clarifying Moments

Common sense from Krauthammer.

Also some common sense (mostly undiluted by his chronic obsessive-compulsive moral equivalence disorder) by Tom Friedman:

…Yes, yes, I know. I am a too-rational Westerner. I don’t understand the Eastern mind and the emotional victory that Nasrallah will reap from all this pain. It isn’t whether you win or lose; it’s whether you kill Jews. Well, maybe — but, ultimately, wars are fought for political ends. An accounting will be rendered, so let’s do some math.

First, Nasrallah has set back the whole fledgling Arab democracy movement. That movement, by the way, was being used by Islamist parties — like Hezbollah and Hamas — to peacefully ascend to power. Hezbollah, for the first time, had two ministers in the Lebanese cabinet. Hamas, through a U.S.-sponsored election, took over the Palestinian Authority. And in both cases, as well as in Iraq, these Islamist parties were allowed to sit in government and maintain their own militias outside.

What both Hamas and Nasrallah have done — by dragging their nations into unnecessary wars with Israel — is to prove that Islamists will not be made more accountable by political power. Just the opposite; not only will they not fix the potholes, they will start wars, whenever they choose, that will lead to even bigger potholes.

Does this mean Hamas and Hezbollah will never get another vote? Of course not. Their followers will always follow. What it does mean is that if the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, or Islamists in Jordan or the gulf, had any hopes of taking power through electoral means, they can forget about it. I don’t see their governments ever allowing elections that might bring Islamist parties to power, and I don’t see the U.S. promoting any more elections in the region, for now. The Arab democracy experiment is on hold — because if Islamist parties can’t be trusted to rule, elections can’t be trusted to be held.

All Arab dictators say, “Thank you, Nasrallah.”

On the peace front, let’s see, Israel gets out of Lebanon and Gaza, and what is the response of Hamas and Hezbollah? Build schools, roads and jobs in their recovered territories? Nope. Respect the border with Israel, but demand that Israel continue to withdraw from the West Bank? Nope. The response is to shell Israel from Gaza and abduct Israeli soldiers from Lebanon. Hamas and Nasrallah replaced the formula “land for peace” with “land for war,” said the former Mideast envoy Dennis Ross.

In doing so, they have ensured that no Israeli government is going to unilaterally withdraw from the West Bank and risk rockets on Tel Aviv. Nasrallah and Hamas have brought “strategic territorial depth” back to Israeli thinking. All West Bank Jewish settlers say, “Thank you, Nasrallah.”

But let’s assume Nasrallah doesn’t care about democracy or a Palestinian state. He has to care about his own standing. His adventures have led to the devastation of his people — what is happening to Lebanon is a terrible tragedy — with relatively little damage to Israel. He launched a war on behalf of Iran that ruined his people, and the best outcome he can expect is a cease-fire that requires Hezbollah to move away from the Israeli border.

Moreover, Iran gave Nasrallah missiles to deter any Western or Israeli attack on Iran’s nuclear program. By frivolously playing their missile card now, Hezbollah and Iran have exposed and weakened Iran’s deterrent. Really dumb.

And Michael Rubin writing in the Wall Street Journal offers some interesting quotes from Arabs:

“Lebanon . . . is not willing to be the spearhead of the Arab-Israeli conflict,” former President Amin Gemayel said. “Hezbollah will have to explain itself to the Lebanese,” Druze leader Walid Jumblatt told Le Figaro. The independent Beirut daily Al-Mustaqbal quoted Lebanese Communications Minister Marwan Hamada saying, “Syrian Vice President Faruq al-Shara gives the commands, Hezbollah carries them out, and Lebanon is the hostage.”

Nor did the wider Arab world rally in unanimity toward Hezbollah. “A distinction must be made between legitimate resistance and uncalculated adventures undertaken by elements [without] . . . consulting and coordinating with Arab nations,” the official Saudi Press Agency opined. Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Abul Gheit included Hezbollah rocket attacks in his condemnation of terrorism. Even the Arab League, which seldom misses an opportunity to denounce Israel, offered only muted criticism. True, League Secretary General Amr Moussa condemned Israel’s “disproportionate attack,” after the July 15 meeting, but rather than just slam the Jewish state, Saud al-Faisal, the Saudi foreign minister, chided Hezbollah’s “unexpected, inappropriate and irresponsible acts.” Delegates from Bahrain, Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait and the UAE backed Mr. al-Faisal. Ahmed al-Jarallah, editor of Kuwait’s Arab Times, condemned both Hezbollah and Hamas in an editorial that same day, writing, “Unfortunately we must admit that in such a war the only way to get rid of ‘these irregular phenomena’ is what Israel is doing.”

…The signs of Arab unease have been growing over the last 18 months. Jordan’s King Abdullah II first raised alarm. In a Dec. 12, 2004 interview with Chris Matthews, he warned that the rise of Iranian-backed Shiite parties in Iraq could give rise to a Shiite “crescent” stretching from Iran to Lebanon. Abdulaziz Hakim, the leader of the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq, called Abdullah’s comments “ridiculous,” but the remarks resonated in Arab countries. True, the Shiites might account for only 10% of the world’s Muslims, but in the volatile region stretching from the eastern Mediterranean to Iran, the Sunnis and Shiites are near parity. That Shiites predominate in the oil-producing regions not only of Iran and Iraq but also in Saudi Arabia accelerates the fears. Satellite stations throw fuel on the fire. A July 12 political cartoon in the Iraqi daily al-Mutamar depicted a man pouring gasoline labeled sectarianism into a satellite dish.

The power of satellite stations to inflame sectarian passion is extraordinary. I was in Sweileh, Jordan, as news broke last November that Iraqi Shiite militias had tortured Sunni prisoners in detention. Al-Jazeera replayed the footage in gory detail. Cafes hushed and men shouted abuse at the TV screens. More recently, al-Jazeera amplified Osama bin Laden’s July 1 Internet message blaming “the people of the [Shiite] south” for violating Sunni cities like Ramadi, Fallujah and Mosul. The situation worsened when Iranian-backed Shiite militiamen rampaged through the mixed Hay al-Jihad neighborhood on July 9, demanding identity cards and killing anyone with a Sunni name.

Most Arabs perceive Israel as small. Egypt — home to one of every three Arabs — has enjoyed a cold peace with Israel for more than a quarter-century. Gulf states, on the whole, would rather make money than directly fight Israel. While they do not like Israel’s existence, Jerusalem presents no threat. Not so Tehran. A giant with 70 million people, Iran is no status quo power. Its ideological commitment to export revolution is real. Across Lebanon and the region, Arab leaders see Hezbollah for what it is: An arm of Iranian influence waging a sectarian battle in the heart of the Middle East.

An old Arab proverb goes, “Me against my brother; me and my brother against our cousin; and me, my brother and my cousin against the stranger.” Forced to make a choice, Sunni Arabs are deciding: The Jews are cousins; the Shiites, strangers.

Meanwhile, appeasers Zbigniew Brzezinski and Madeleine Albright call for the U.S. to “talk to” Iran. The last time Zbig “talked to” the mullahs when he was Carter’s National Security Adviser, he was rewarded with the storming of the American embassy in Tehran and the taking of hostages. And we all know how Ms. Albright’s sit-down with Kim Il Sung worked out when she worked for Bill Clinton.

Preparing the Battlefield

Is Israel “preparing the battlefield” for an a attack on Iran? This columnist thinks so.

Augustus Richard Norton writes:

The Israeli response is only incidentally about the return of the captives. Facile commentators have also explained the Israeli decision by Ehud Olmert’s lack of experience and his need to prove himself. It is far-fetched that a sophisticated military response to Hizbullah’s abduction of the Israelis turns simply on Olmert improving his resume. What is under way reflects a deep strategy that focuses on Israel’s major adversary, Iran, and simultaneously strives to sustain Israeli hegemony over its neighbors.

Otherwise, it is easy to imagine a very potent, and much more measured response to Hizbullah’s abductions that focused on building international and regional support for implementing Security Council Resolution 1559 to begin the disarming of Hizbullah. The fact that the more measured strategy was apparently rejected out of hand speaks volumes about the big picture.

While the generals will delight in the prospect of cutting Hizbullah down to size, the more important dimension is preparing the battlefield vis-a-vis Iran. If Hizbullah’s capacity to bombard Israel is eliminated, then it will be easier for Israel to attack Iran’s nuclear sites later. Israel has obviously been preparing for such an attack for several years, and if the United States and the other players in the so called “Five plus One” group fail in their efforts to temper Iran’s nuclear programs, Israel’s offensive in Lebanon is likely intended to make it easier to move against Iran.

The Islamist-Israeli War

Good points by William Kristol.

He writes in the Weekly Standard:

Why is this Arab-Israeli war different from all other Arab-Israeli wars? Because it’s not an Arab-Israeli war. Most of Israel’s traditional Arab enemies have checked out of the current conflict. The governments of Egypt, Jordan, Iraq, and Saudi Arabia are, to say the least, indifferent to the fate of Hamas and Hezbollah. The Palestine Liberation Organization (Fatah) isn’t a player. The prime mover behind the terrorist groups who have started this war is a non-Arab state, Iran, which wasn’t involved in any of Israel’s previous wars.

What’s happening in the Middle East, then, isn’t just another chapter in the Arab-Israeli conflict. What’s happening is an Islamist-Israeli war. You might even say this is part of the Islamist war on the West–but is India part of the West? Better to say that what’s under attack is liberal democratic civilization, whose leading representative right now happens to be the United States.

…Here… is one lesson that does seem to hold: States matter. Regimes matter. Ideological movements become more dangerous when they become governing regimes of major nations. Communism became really dangerous when it seized control of Russia. National socialism became really dangerous when it seized control of Germany. Islamism became really dangerous when it seized control of Iran–which then became, as it has been for the last 27 years, the Islamic Republic of Iran.

No Islamic Republic of Iran, no Hezbollah. No Islamic Republic of Iran, no one to prop up the Assad regime in Syria. No Iranian support for Syria (a secular government that has its own reasons for needing Iranian help and for supporting Hezbollah and Hamas), little state sponsorship of Hamas and Hezbollah. And no Shiite Iranian revolution, far less of an impetus for the Saudis to finance the export of the Wahhabi version of Sunni Islam as a competitor to Khomeini’s claim for leadership of militant Islam–and thus no Taliban rule in Afghanistan, and perhaps no Hamas either.

It’s of course true that Hamas–an arm of the Sunni Muslim Brotherhood–is at odds ideologically with Shia Iran, and that Shia and Sunni seem inclined to dislike, even slaughter, each other elsewhere in the Middle East. But temporary alliances of convenience are no less dangerous because they are temporary. Tell the Poles of 1939, and the French of 1940, that they really had little to worry about because the Nazi-Soviet pact was bound to fall apart.

The war against radical Islamism is likely to be a long one. Radical Islamism isn’t going away anytime soon. But it will make a big difference how strong the state sponsors, harborers, and financiers of radical Islamism are. Thus, our focus should be less on Hamas and Hezbollah, and more on their paymasters and real commanders–Syria and Iran. And our focus should be not only on the regional war in the Middle East, but also on the global struggle against radical Islamism.

… while Syria and Iran are enemies of Israel, they are also enemies of the United States. We have done a poor job of standing up to them and weakening them. They are now testing us more boldly than one would have thought possible a few years ago. Weakness is provocative. We have been too weak, and have allowed ourselves to be perceived as weak.

The right response is renewed strength–in supporting the governments of Iraq and Afghanistan, in standing with Israel, and in pursuing regime change in Syria and Iran. For that matter, we might consider countering this act of Iranian aggression with a military strike against Iranian nuclear facilities. Why wait? Does anyone think a nuclear Iran can be contained? That the current regime will negotiate in good faith? It would be easier to act sooner rather than later. Yes, there would be repercussions–and they would be healthy ones, showing a strong America that has rejected further appeasement.

Morons and Geniuses

Thank God George Bush is an idiot. In allowing his spokesman to say that, “The president is not going to make military decisions for Israel,” Bush concedes that perhaps the Israelis are more competent to decide what’s best for Israel than he is.

Not true of the geniuses at the New York Times. Just as they believe that they know what’s best for American security when they publish classified information about secret programs to track terrorists and their money, they also assume they know what’s best for those misguided Israelis:

Israel needs to be careful that its far-reaching military responses, however legally and morally justified, do not end up advancing the political agenda that Hamas and Hezbollah hard-liners had in mind when they conceived and executed the kidnappings of Israeli soldiers that detonated the fighting.

The Palestinian Authority, which Hamas controls, and the Lebanese government, in which Hezbollah is a minority participant, inexcusably failed to prevent or halt these incidents. Iran, which arms Hezbollah, and Syria, which shelters the most violent wing of Hamas, also share some responsibility.

Israel is fully justified in treating these two incidents as unacceptable acts of aggression. But it needs to better adapt its methods to the circumstances it now faces. The point is to weaken and isolate Hamas and Hezbollah, while denying them opportunities to rally broader Arab support. To that end, Israel must focus its fire much more directly at the leaders and fighters of these two groups, and do far more to minimize the damage to civilian bystanders.

Here’s why: The military chieftains of Hamas and Hezbollah fully understand that their primitively armed guerrillas and limited-range unguided missiles are no match for Israel’s world-class military forces. When they engage in provocative operations, like the recent kidnapping of Israeli soldiers and shelling of Israeli towns, they do not expect to win any kind of traditional military victory.

What they more realistically hope for is that the inevitably fierce and devastating Israeli military response will hand them an opportunity to radicalize Arab politics and thereby pressure moderate Arab leaders to distance themselves from Israel and embrace the guerrilla cause. That is a tactic that secular Palestinian guerrilla groups like Fatah pioneered decades ago, and that Islamist groups like Hamas and Hezbollah now use for similar ends.

This perverse dynamic is again coming into play after Israel’s wide-ranging forays into Gaza and Lebanon. Most Arabs are not blaming Hamas and Hezbollah for provoking these Israeli raids. They are blaming Israel for carrying them out.

That is not fair. But it is the way things work in the real world, and the provocateurs of Hamas and Hezbollah and their allies in Damascus and Tehran understand how to use it to their long-term advantage. Israel’s political and military leaders need to understand it too and not let themselves be drawn into the provocateurs’ game.

That is the now familiar “they’ll hate us if we defend ourselves” argument so beloved of liberals the world over. I subscribe to the “they attack when they think we’re weak and indecisive” argument.

Ironically, the Times is the leading media megaphone of the Democratic Party, to which American Jews are slavishly loyal, while Bush the moron has few Jewish supporters.

Makes me wonder who the real morons are.

Getting Serious

Victor Davis Hanson advises the Israelis:

Victor Davis Hanson: …. What they’re trying to tell the Lebanese is when you get out in the street, whether you’re Christian or Druse, or Shiia, or Sunni, and you fire a machine gun up in the air and celebrate an Israeli being kidnapped, there’s going to be consequences, collectively. You may not have power. You may not have water. You may not have tourism. And you’re willing to put up with that? Fine. Now we may have two or three rockets hit every week, but we’re going to have power, and we’re going to have life as usual, and you’re not. And we’ll see who can hold out the longest. And that’s what they’re trying to do now.

Hugh Hewitt: What would you do if you were given ten minutes with the prime minister, Ohlmert, tonight? What would you advise him to do?

Victor Davis Hanson: I would have him through intermediaries tell Mr. Assad, and tell the Lebanese government, that I have six to seven to eight steps that are going to take place. And the first is, I’m going to eliminate all the power grids in Syria and Lebanon if this happens, and that would be X number of rockets. And the I would say if you go beyond that line, you’re not going to have any highway system. If you go on to this, you’re not going to have any air transportation systems. And I would map it out over about a thirty day period. And I’d say this is your choice, but this is what’s going to happen. It’s not negotiable. And then let them deal with their own militants, and discuss, and find a face-saving way out. And then tell the Israeli people you’re at war, and mobilize. And I think that that would be about the only thing they could do. I would not invade. I wouldn’t get on the ground in Lebanon and Syria.