Powered by WebAds

Friday, February 02, 2007

Dangerous delusions

Today, Ehud K. Olmert became the 77th and final witness to testify before the Winograd Commission that is investigating last summer's war in Lebanon. Incredibly - but not surprisingly - Olmert told the Commission that Israel won the war. More incredible is the reason why Olmert thinks we won:
... Israel won the war because it achieved key diplomatic and military successes, aides said.

The prime minister reportedly told the commission that United Nations Resolution 1701, which mandated an international peacekeeping force in Lebanon , pushed Hizbullah away from Israel's northern border and called for the immediate release of two Israeli soldiers kidnapped by Hizbullah, was Israel's major achievement.
He calls that an achievement? Either his English is as bad as Tzipi Feigele Livni's, or he is downright delusional. For those who have forgotten, let's look back at some of the things that UN Security Council Resolution 1701 didn't do:
In a meeting tonight with Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov, Ehud Olmert showed how little he understands of the resolution to which his English-and-diplomacy deficient foreign minister Tzipi Livni agreed in the UN. During his meeting with Lavrov, Olmert said the following:
Until the kidnapped soldiers are released, there will not be full implementation of UN Security Council resolution 1701. Israel is implementing its side of the resolution, and thus, Lebanon must do the same and release the two kidnapped soldiers immediately.
There are two problems with Olmert's formulation. First, it's not Lebanon that is holding the soldiers but Hezbullah, and Hezbullah doesn't regard itself as being bound by UN Security Council resolution 1701. It's not a state, not a UN member, and the resolution was not addressed to it. Second, UN Security Council resolution 1701 would not require Lebanon to release Regev and Goldwasser (the two kidnapped Israeli soldiers) even if it held them. The only time Regev and Goldwasser are mentioned is in Preparatory Paragraph 3, and that paragraph is not part of the substantive resolution. In my comments on the resolution on August 12, I noted the following:
PP3. Emphasizing the need for an end of violence, but at the same time emphasizing the need to address urgently the causes that have given rise to the current crisis, including by the unconditional release of the abducted Israeli soldiers, [Note that this is in the Preparatory Paragraphs and not in the Operational ones. It doesn't mean anything. We have two more Ron Arad's. CiJ]
This evening, Olmert put only one of the final two nails into Regev's and Goldwasser's coffins: He lifted the aerial blockade on Lebanon, but left the naval blockade intact "because the international force was not yet in a position to enforce the arms embargo to Hizbullah." So if Hezbullah wants to move Goldwasser and Regev to - for example - Iran, they will have to fly them out of Lebanon or move them overland and cannot put them on a boat. The bottom line is that if (and it's a big if) they are still alive, Olmert pretty much signed their death warrants this evening. By lifting the blockades on Lebanon, he is giving up the last bit of (admittedly flimsy) leverage he had to win their release.
There's more. Caroline Glick correctly called 1701 the "eleventh hour" for Israel and the reconstituted UNIFIL:
It's already the eleventh hour for Israel and the reconstituted UNIFIL. That's my conclusion anyway from reading Caroline Glick's column in today's Jerusalem Post. I'm going to give you a few excerpts, but it's got so much packed into it that you simply must read the whole thing:

Resolution 1701 restricts Israel's freedom of action in three additional ways. First, the resolution named Ahmadinejad's solicitor, Kofi Annan, as arbiter of the sides' compliance. Annan revealed how he will be using this authority two weeks ago when he condemned the IDF's commando raid in Baalbek while beginning his calls for Israel to lift its air and sea blockade of Lebanon and so enable Hizbullah to rearm, not only by land, but by air and sea as well.

Second, although Olmert and Livni loudly champion the European forces being deployed to Lebanon as an important diplomatic achievement, the fact is that the decision to empower the EU to dominate UNIFIL is disastrous for Israel. While protesting their "love" for Israel, the Europeans are making no bones about the fact that their decision to lead UNIFIL is motivated by their intention to prevent Israel from defending itself.

Italy's Communist Foreign Minister Massimo D'Alema made this point clearly in his interview last Friday with Ha'aretz. There he explained that the EU goal in Lebanon is to "prove to Israel that it can ensure its security better through the politics of peace than through war."
In another post the same day, I wrote:
In today's Washington Post, Charles Krauthammer reminds us that Hezbullah won the propaganda war but lost the military battle on the ground. Krauthammer believes that Israel inflicted enough damage - despite Olmert's weak leadership - to prevent Hezbullah from initiating a second round, if what he calls the resolutions to disarm Hezbullah are implemented. The problem is that UN Security Council Resolution 1701 is not self-executing with respect to disarming Hezbullah, and all indications so far have been that the world does not plan on doing the job. Therefore, I cannot share Krauthammer's apparent optimism.
And the weekend that Resolution 1701 was adopted, I blogged this article by Barry Rubin:
Barry Rubin has a cold analysis (not an emotional one like I would write) of UN Security Council Resolution 1701. The entire analysis is worth reading, but here's what I consider the most important part:


But the central contradiction in the document is between OP11 and OP12. OP11 basically makes UNIFIL action dependent on the Lebanese government asking for help. In other words, only if the government asks UNIFIL to fight against terrorists in southern Lebanon or interdict arms smuggling can it act.

It should be noted that the Lebanese armed forces are a polite fiction. Just as Hizbullah is part of the government coalition, it has also deeply infiltrated the army. Half or even more of the soldiers sympathize with Hizbullah and will not do anything to - as they think of it - "protect" Israel from attack. It is not a highly disciplined military with a reliable chain of command. If a Lebanese soldier fires at Hizbullah, the entire army could split into two warring factions, something the government and politicians will want to avoid at any cost.

Yet OP12 says UNIFIL can take "all necessary action" in its area of deployment to fulfill its mission. This could be interpreted, for example, to mean that the UNIFIL units will attack terrorists south of the Litani without being explicitly asked to do so by the Lebanese government. Everything depends on who will command UNIFIL and what its rules of engagement are going to be. Will it honestly report violations or just look the other way? Will it only do what the Lebanese government expressly asks or take action to prevent cross-border attacks?

A lot will also depend on what strategy Hizbullah adapts and what Damascus and Teheran urge it to do. There is no chance of Hizbullah being destroyed, disarmed or moderated. But it can choose how high a profile it will have.
For those of you who have forgotten, my paragraph by paragraph analysis of 1701 is here.

It's been more than five months since the war ended. Hezbullah has re-armed and is ready and willing to fight again. Another war could come as soon as this spring or summer, God forbid. You decide: who's right? Ehud K. Olmert or me?


At 3:47 PM, Blogger M. Simon said...

If Hizballah is ready to fight again why are they fooling with the overthrow of the Lebanese government.

If they were strong they would be acting as independently as they did last May and Early June.

Now admited they are restocking and rebuilding. However, that will not be done in a few months. In fact it could take as long as two years to rebuild their "Army" and infrastructure.

Did you see Totten's pictures?


Post a Comment

<< Home