Wednesday, August 2, 2006

Scaling the Heights of Perverted Logic

The bleary-eyed crowd of pro-war analysts and commentators are mourning the fact that time is running out on the Israeli offensive with no evidence that any of the stated Israeli war objectives will be reached. The objectives, it will be recalled, were the annihilation of Hezbollah as a military-political force, the return of the captured soldiers and the replacement of Hezbollah by a military force (Lebanese, international or both) along the Israeli-Lebanese border designed to enhance Israel’s strategic and tactical position in the area. The strongest army in the Middle East backed by the strongest power in the world is bogged down in the Lebanese quagmire. Oh, how much arrogance and stupidity is required to create a new quagmire on dry land in the middle of the summer.

Thus Olmert, staring failure in the face, has decided to declare victory and preparing to get out.
Speaking at the National Security College in Tel Aviv, Olmert gave one of those speeches replete with profound ideas like “we will win because we must win.” Yesterday, he came out with the eerie declaration that Israel has already won the war. This is a strange statement from somebody who is desperately lobbying the international community to extend Israel’s license to hunt and kill in Lebanon for another week or ten days. Olmert speaks of the achievements of the Israeli attack in glowing terms of “nearly unprecedented success” and “even today, it may be said that the face of the Middle East has changed following the great achievement of the State of Israel.” The success is so great that “In no way can this war be measured by the number or range of missiles still being fired at us…we did not promise that there would be no more missiles” and “each day is weakening the enemy’s resolve…” (Ha’aretz, August 2, 2006). The Ha’aretz correspondent felt it necessary to explain that Olmert spoke off the cuff.

This morning, newspaper readers were reading Olmert’s rosy assessment of the situation when the heaviest of salvos – more than 150 rockets - smashed into the north of Israel. Pity Olmert who had just explained that success cannot be measured by the number of missiles still being fired on us. Pity poor Chief of Staff, Halutz, whose press conference this morning was interrupted again and again by announcements calling on people to go down into the shelters. Halutz was explaining that no one ever promised that there wouldn’t be any more missiles and trying to cheer up the Israeli public with the news that Israel had successfully raided a hospital (!) in the sensitive Baalbek area close to the Syrian border. Halutz also took pride in the fact that the IDF had killed 300 Hezbollah fighters in recent battles.

May I say a word to friends who have been convinced of the justice of the Israeli reaction on July 12, 2006. The debate on this issue will, of course, continue. Meanwhile, it is clearer, day by day, that Israel is in the hands of totally irresponsible and incompetent politicians and generals. This particular sense of what is happening is spreading through all sections of the informed public. This can be verified by careful monitoring of the Israeli media. There is a growing evidence s that both the Prime Minister and the C. of S. are in a state of disconnect. It simply had not occurred to the two of them that it is harder to get out of a war than to get into one. Now they are finding this exit especially hard to find since their political hides and careers are on the block. In these growingly dangerous circumstances, cannot we all unite on a clear and urgent demand to stop the fighting, before it is too late??

Israel Does Have Some “Achievements”!
The list of Israeli “achievements” is impressive:

a) Israel has considerably improved the status and the prestige of Hezbollah in Lebanon, and in the entire Arab and the Muslim world.

b) Israel has recast Hezbollah’s role un Lebanon from that of an important, but minor player in Lebanese politics, into a major player whose influence will play, in the near future, an even greater role in internal Lebanese politics.

c) Israel seems to have tipped the scales and isolated the more rabid anti-Syrian circles in Lebanon. Syria will be less isolated and more influential than before in Lebanese politics.

d) Israel has exposed the true nature of the “moderate” Arab regimes, such as Egypt and Jordan and revealed their disloyalty to the cause of an independent Palestine and a free Lebanon.

e) Israel has helped to begin to heal the open wounds in the tensions between Sunnis and Shi’ites.There is nothing more dangerous to the United States today in Iraq than potential Sunni-Shi’ite unity. Israel may do the impossible and unify these bitter enemies.

f) Reports from Teheran observe that the Israeli attach has hurt reformists and strengthened the hard-liners. g) Israel has disproved (for the n’th time) the myth that air power, even uncontested, can win a war and once more, it is clear that victory depends on “boots on the ground.” This myth persists because the air power gurus play on the anxieties of the cheap politicians in advanced Western countries. The generals promise victory by virtue of smart bombs, laser, etc. and all the impressive technology. The politicians buy the story because they want a war without casualties from among their constituents. Invariably, the win by air power formula turns out to be quite airy.

Admittedly, during a war, things can still change. Even so, the above “achievements” are clearer and more certain than the dubious and murky achievements which Olmert claims for Israel in the “new Middle East.”