Monday, February 19, 2007

Olmert Leads Israel in a Five Front War

Ehud Olmert is leading Israel to the dizzying heights of superpower status and superpower strategy. With one hand tied behind his back (we are referring, of course, to his need to devote his thoughts and energy to repelling the criminal indictments coming his way), Olmert has done, with his “free hand” almost the impossible. It is worth recalling that not so long ago, Israeli military doctrine warned the political echelon about getting into a confrontation on more than one front. Olmert, who already bears direct responsibility for the Lebanon war fiasco last summer, is developing the appetite of a glutton for armed confrontation. In his short premiership, he has gone to war at the drop of a hat and seems to consider it a great success. Why, just last week he told the press that the committee that he had appointed to examine his conduct of the recent war, was totally satisfied by his explanations of his role in the war. With such a success under his belt, no wonder that Olmert has no qualms about leading Israel into a four, or even a five front war.

The Palestinian Front – Two Prongs
The West Bank prong in the war against the Palestinians: almost nightly for the last several months, Israeli army raiders, usually disguised as Arabs, search out and arrest tens of “wanted” (that’s a noun and not an adjective). When this operation goes a bit askew, or meets resistance, then a pogrom ensues. Last month an unsuccessful attempt to arrest a “wanted” in the middle of the day in the middle of the Ramallah market ended in a major shoot- out. When things got hot, the Israelis sent tanks “ablazing” into the center of town to extract their exposed unit.

The Gaza Prong – Israel has recently smashed into the northern Gaza town of Beit Hanoun in a vain attempt to prevent the dispatch of home-made rockets at the town of Sh’derot (and other communities along the Gaza border). Israel has revved up the tanks for another incursion into the Gaza strip. However, the internecine strife among the Palestinians seems to have convinced the Israelis to hold off because, meanwhile, the Palestinians were doing their work for them. Any alert observer understands that the chances for a major Israeli incursion will multiply if the Palestinians dare to overcome their differences and establish a unity government, as they seem to be doing these days.
Summarizing the Palestinian front – Israel is involved in a two-pronged “low intensity” war, that can intensify any minute, especially in the Gaza area.

Lebanon – New Incursions – New Flare-ups
According to its previous pronouncements, Israel would be in a state of permanent bliss if only the Lebanon army, and not Hezbollah, was arrayed along its northern border. Now it is the Lebanon army and the UNIFIL force that just cannot get it right. Often, in a border incident, its hard to reconstruct exactly what happened. Not this time. Far from denying responsibility for the February 7, 2007 clash, Israel has admitted a recent change in the IDF deployment that caused the incident with the Lebanese army.

“An IDF force crossed over the fence yesterday evening near the border in the area where four Hezbollah explosive devices were found at the beginning of the week. This is an area where the international border is tens of meters north of the fence. The fence and the border are not identical and there are small plots of land between them. The IDF has recently changed its policy and it now examines plots north of the fence… An infantry force accompanied by two bulldozers entered the area to see if there are any explosive devices and to level the area. Tanks backed up the force from south of the fence.” (Ha’aretz, February 8, 2007) The following morning, Israeli aircraft were swarming all over southern Lebanon. The Israeli version is that the IDF is very concerned about the four explosive devices lying there in the mud. This is hard to believe since the info is that they may have been residue from the last war…

Summary of the Lebanon front
Israel sees itself in a critical ongoing conflict with Hezbollah. Many in the government and the army see the present period as only an interlude between rounds. But if anyone, including the Lebanon army, gets in the way, Israel responds with military force. Israel is also poised to respond militarily against any Hezbollah gains in internal Lebanese politics. There is no peace and growing tension on the Lebanese front.

Iran in the Cross-Hairs
Israel is very open about its intentions regarding Iran. Israel is not willing to forfeit its nuclear monopoly in the region. Aided in no small degree by Ahmadinajad’s provocative declarations, Israel has become Bush’s chief co-conspirator. The two connive and threaten, and the only disagreement is “who goes first.” At any rate, whether the coming war is a Bush-Israel or an Israel-Bush operation, the Iranian front is militarily the most serious of all the fronts. s Israel is more and more convinced that returning Iran to the Shah-like control is the key to eternal stability in the ME. In short, the Bush-Israel pair is in dire straits and has come to believe that war is the only way out.
In summary: Israel is in the vanguard of the forces pushing for regional conflagration, another major front.

The Syrian Front – Getting Warmer
Admittedly, the preparation for war on this front is less in the news. But most of the past and present generals (quite a sizeable population, in themselves) never tire of explaining that Lebanon-Syria or Iran-Syria are package deals. Explanations of this kind became urgent because there was some sort of public initiative for negotiations with Syria, based on reports of serious Syrian overtures. Rice did not have to exert herself too much explain to Olmert that negotiations with Syria are a Baker-Hamilton plot, to be avoided like the plague.

Declaring War on the Islam World
The Israeli government can argue till it is blue in the face that the new excavations near the Temple Mount and in the vicinity of the Al Aqsa Mosque are an innocent engineering and archeological operation to replace a dangerous structure. Ha’aretz represents Israeli paranoia in arguing that the approach to the Mograbi entrance is a “crucial Israeli interest.”

But this is a crude and cynical provocation designed to show everyone that it is Israel which is the sole arbiter of all matters connected to the holy sites and that Israel does not need to consult anyone regarding its actions. The act is so flagrant and the timing is so irresponsible that Israel’s Security Minister, Peretz, has demanded that Olmert stop the operation immediately for fear of escalation and deterioration in the security situation (Ha’aretz, February 8, 2007).
Are we a bunch of “nervous Nellys” because we are uncomfortable and challenge the wisdom of involving Israel in a five front war. It is more likely that we are not hysterical at all but rightly concerned that we are in the hands of idiots and/or madmen (cross out one or leave both in).