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Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Talking about terror

Ted Belman at Israpundit sent me an article I had not seen (because I refuse to pay) from Sunday's New York Times by David Brooks, their token conservative columnist. Ted notes that the "interview sheds new light on how US proposes to achieve “sustainable peace”. The proposed resolution also supports a new meaning for this goal. The US wants Israel to appease Hezballah and Fatah to achieve “sustainable peace”. Thus Israel is expected to return Sheeba Farms and all Lebanese prisoners and ultimately withdraw even if Hezballah is not disarmed."

Washington is full of conversations, but occasionally you have one with a policy maker that sheds light on where we’ve been and where we’re going. I had one of those conversations late last week, and I thought it might be useful to share a truncated version of it here.

Policy Maker: Israel began this war with an almost unprecedented level of legitimacy. Unfortunately, that was forfeited during the first days with the bombing campaign, which seemed to punish all of Lebanon instead of just Hezbollah. If Sharon were still functioning, perhaps he would have insisted on a better plan, but this may be another case of a just war poorly executed.

Me: But wasn’t this war a test case of whether it is even possible to defeat a terrorist force with military might? After all, no army is going to know this kind of enemy better than Israel’s. Maybe the Islamists have simply come up with a conceptual breakthrough that makes them difficult to defeat. They’ve grasped that the more they endanger their own people and get them killed, the better it is for them politically. Israel or the U.S. gets blamed. That’s like a superweapon in the media war.

Has Israel at least degraded Hezbollah militarily?

P: Not enough to give them the sense they’re being defeated. In any case, we’ve worked out an arrangement with France that should stop the fighting early next week. This may sound odd, but U.S. relations with France have hardly been better. We’re working remarkably closely across a whole range of Middle East issues because we have the same understanding and goals. (Ominous) [Well, at least relations with France may be back on the rocks. CiJ]

In Lebanon there will be a truce that will leave the current armies in place (which the Israelis won’t like). Then we can insert an international force. We won’t be able to disarm Hezbollah but we may be able to help the Lebanese Army secure the border. (No intention to try.)

The thing to understand is that the international force may never materialize. The key is Hezbollah. If they decide to harvest their gains by becoming a peaceful player in the Lebanese government, then the international force can come in. But if they decide to destabilize the government and turn Lebanon into a host for their war with Israel then there’ll be no force. Israel would have to find a way to withdraw at a time of its own choosing. But if Hezbollah keeps fighting it will have accepted responsibility for breaking the international deal, and Israel will have greater freedom to act. (Who would accept this? Not Israel, I hope.)

Read the whole thing.


At 9:24 AM, Blogger ShumBaayaMyLord said...

Carl, this was the article I alluded to in a post the other day (copying a note I'd sent to Jeff Jacoby at The Boston Globe urging him to add his voice to the calls for Olmert's immediate ouster). I did not include a link, which m.simon seized upon as an indication that I must be as incompetent as the very Prime Minister whose ouster I desire. Eyze anashim...


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