Sunday, August 20, 2006

Getting Ready for Round Two?

Member of the Opposition Efi Eitam in the Knesset, August 14, 2006: The war is not over, the ceasefire is only a temporary recess which Nasrallah can exploit to reorganize. Our soldiers are still with their finger on the trigger in enemy territory, and therefore if we start to fight now, we can really turn into spider's web. Eitam is a leader of the National Union, a coalition of extreme right wing parties and a former leader of the National Religious Party. He is the Israeli political leader who most resembles Nasrallah. Both are "born-again" in their respective religions, but proved poor students of its texts. They each have a large number of children. Each has a Messianic complex and was a military leader. Eitam commanded the IDF troops in Lebanon during the 1990s, which faced Nasrallah's guerillas.

Defense Minister Amir Peretz at Israel cabinet meeting, August 20: The points noted as [IDF] failures along the way will be examined. We will look into them, put them on the table. Our duty is to prepare for the next round He also said, however, if a multinational force deploys in southern Lebanon and we find ourselves opposite a demilitarized area, then we have reached our goals.

Minister of National Infrastructure Binyamin Ben-Eliezer, at the same meeting, added the next round of fighting against Hizbullah could come within several months: You have to read between the lines. Hizbuallh is getting organized, the Syria army is learning lessons. We have to rehabilitate the north, the reserve forces and the army and be prepared for the next round.

Such sabre-rattling makes French liberal newspaper Le Monde nervous enough to headline in today's paper: Israel does not exclude a second round in its war with Hezbollah. The report will surely encourage France to increase its contribution to the multinational force. As if this was not sufficient evidence of Peretz's inability to understand the consequences of what he says and does, he provided more at the meeting. He complained no one had followed his suggestion at the beginning of the war of getting the Europeans ready to fund the rehabiliation of Lebanon. So now Iranian money has flowed into the vaccuum. Peretz sounds like something from Monty Python:
Peretz (or delegate) to European governments: We're about to destroy most of Lebanon's infrastructure, some cities, towns and villages in southern Lebanon and a few districts in Beirut and Balbek. Please get ready to hand out money when we're done so the Lebanese can rebuild.

European governments: Instead of doing that, how about negotiating with Hezbollah? That way, we'd save our money, the Lebanese would be spared their lives and you'd get your soldiers back.

Peretz (or delegate): No. That isn't in the script.
At the same cabinet meeting Chief of Staff Dan Halutz sounded less bellicose. He said that IDF won the match with Hezbollah on points, not by a knockout. (Note how his use of a boxing metaphor complements the idea that the Bush administration briefly regarded Israel as its Great White Hope.) Consequently, he added, Hezbollah was observing the cease fire, and other Lebanese would not tolerate actions that again threatened them. The takeaway was Hezbollah is not likely to provoke a second round or, rather, Halutz is not anxious to find in some Hezbollah activity an excuse for starting a second round. His position, incidentally, puts in question the point of the commando raid the night before, because it contradicts the official story that the raid aimed to interdict arms shipments from Syria to Hezbollah.

1 Comments:

Blogger Phill H-B said...

The French objective here appears to be first to shut down the fighting, second to ensure that Israel does not make any strategic gain from what they see as unjustified aggression.

Whether the second objective is achieved by leaving Israel committed to a prolonged and violent occupation of Southern Lebanon or by allowing Hezbollah a political victory is immaterial.

Hezbollah's game is essentially the same one that Bush is playing in Iraq. 'Stay the course' could well be the Hezbollah motto.

And Omert was trying to play the same game but he isn't as good at it. Instead of accepting the false choice between 'stay the course' and 'cut and run' they have created a third option, remove the incompetents responsible for the mess.

7:32 AM  

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