Thursday, August 03, 2006

A hodgepodge of random Mideast thoughts

Well I'm back from my college forced "vacation". I thought a break from thinking about Olmert's lack of thinking would do me some good but it hasn't. This isn't as heavy as my posts normally are, but I haven't seen much news in the last few days so I'll need to ease back into the news cycle.

First off, I still have no idea what Olmert’s plan is. I know, I never did, but I at least understood what was happening. However, like the editor (2:30 Aug 3rd), I am also now having a hard time simply understanding what it is the Israeli leadership is doing anymore (that’s not just because I’ve been relatively out of the loop this last week). Olmert’s rhetoric seems to be more and more divorced from reality on the ground. At least with Bint Jbail there was some semblance between what the Olmert government was saying was happening and what was happening. I think it was last week that the Israelis began discussing pushing to the Litani River. The IDF has at least 9 active and 3 reserve brigades (likely several more of each) or 30-50,000 soldiers in northern Israel. A week would have been more than enough time to push the 10-18 miles to the Litani River for a force of that size. Yet at the moment it appears they are staging Bint Jbail style assaults in 3 or 4 locations. says these operations involve only 10,000 troops from 8 brigades. Initially, given Olmert’s rhetoric, I thought these were the advance guards of the 4 columns that would finally advance to the Litani. One week later, they still seem to be rotating small groups of troops in and out for shallow thrusts into Lebanon. I understand the Israelis need to clear out the towns and arms caches, but that is no reason not to send 2 or 3 active divisions to the Litani while 2 or 3 reserve divisions conduct the clearing operations in the rear. The problem doesn’t appear to be Hezbollah resistance. The Israelis are giving much better than they are receiving (19 to 3 yesterday according to and Hezbollah has far fewer fighters than Israel. The only thing I can think is that Olmert still doesn't understand he is running out of time and thinks he has as long as he needs to do this as casualty free as possible. If it isn’t Olmert then I have no idea what the problem is.

As if the quite extensive list needed any more entries, Prime Minister Olmert has again shown that he lacks any strategic sense. He actually claimed last week that the fighting in Gaza and Lebanon adds impetus to the West Bank pullout plan. Apparently the problems following the Gaza and Lebanon withdrawals aren’t enough for him. At the most basic, any such pullout would leave Jerusalem under the shadow of Palestinian rockets. The wall Olmert wants to hide behind only stops suicide bombers, not rockets. The only possible argument I have heard in favor of this idea was by NPR correspondent Mara Liasson on Special Report with Brit Hume, who stated that it was a good idea since the world would stand by Israel if she were attacked from the Palestinian areas. Just like with Gaza and Lebanon the world will initially be sympathetic until Israel tries to defend herself. I know the left considers the world’s sympathy to be sacrosanct, but in the real world it has little value. After all, Czechoslovakia had plenty of sympathy in 1939 and 1968 and that sure did a lot of good. He must really believe the leftwing motto, “fool me 7 times, shame on you, fool me 8 or more times shame on me”. I hope the Israelis can vote him out soon since they don’t have 8 times to wait for Olmert and the left to wake up to reality.

This news story summarizes the draft UN resolution for a cease fire in Lebanon that is circulating. What fantasy world do diplomats live in that they think this has any chance of solving the problem? Every single part of the resolution is impossible to implement in any real way. The first part demands an immediate cessation of hostilities. Uh huh. The only reason Hezbollah will quit is if it's losing and if it is losing the Israelis shouldn't let them quit. I know after that for a starter there’s little reason to continue looking at the rest of the faux demands but let’s continue. In exchange for this cease fire, Hezbollah will disarm as per UN resolution 1559. So Hezbollah will be given the chance to ignore 2 UN resolutions. Ah well, they’re still a lightweight in that category as far as Saddam Hussein was concerned. At this rate it’ll only take 12 years and 15 more UN resolutions before Hezbollah is disarmed. Anyways, back to fantasy land, Hezbollah will also return the 2 kidnapped Israeli soldiers and Israel will release some Hezbollah prisoners. In other words, Hezbollah will get what it wanted all along. To enforce all of this, a robust international force will enter southern Lebanon and will keep the peace along with the Lebanese army. Never mind that no one wants to or has troops to send to Lebanon. Never mind that the Lebanese army is completely incapable of doing anything and that at least 1/3 of the army would support Hezbollah given the chance. Never mind that this would require the Israelis to finish clearing out Hezbollah south of the Litani before this phantom force could arrive; something that won’t happen if Israel is stopped now. To top it off, they actually believe this cease-fire would hold.

There you have it, a lot has happened in the Mideast last week. The IDF was allowed to modestly step up operations but is still being hobbled by poor and indecisive leadership. Prime Minster Olmert continues to provide that poor and indecisive leadership. Lastly, the diplomats and internationalists continue drafting unworkable plans based on some alternate reality. So as much as has happened, far less has changed.