Saturday, October 14, 2006

How Hezbollah kicked Israel's ass

The three supremely – and, I dare say, uniquely - clear-headed articles by Alastair Crooke and Mark Perry on how Hezbollah kicked Israel’s ass are all excellent, but the third is probably the best (I’ve noted the choicest parts in red):

“First, the Hezbollah victory has shown that Israel - and any modern and technologically sophisticated Western military force - can be defeated in open battle, if the proper military tactics are employed and if they are sustained over a prolonged period. Hezbollah has provided the model for the defeat of a modern army. The tactics are simple: ride out the first wave of a Western air campaign, then deploy rocket forces targeting key military and economic assets of the enemy, then ride out a second and more critical air campaign, and then prolong the conflict for an extended period. At some point, as in the case of Israel's attack on Hezbollah, the enemy will be forced to commit ground troops to accomplish what its air forces could not. It is in this last, and critical, phase that a dedicated, well-trained and well-led force can exact enormous pain on a modern military establishment and defeat it.

Second, the Hezbollah victory has shown the people of the Muslim world that the strategy employed by Western-allied Arab and Muslim governments - a policy of appeasing US interests in the hopes of gaining substantive political rewards (a recognition of Palestinian rights, fair pricing for Middle Eastern resources, non-interference in the region's political structures, and free, fair and open elections) - cannot and will not work. The Hezbollah victory provides another and different model, of shattering US hegemony and destroying its stature in the region. Of the two most recent events in the Middle East, the invasion of Iraq and the Hezbollah victory over Israel, the latter is by far the most important. Even otherwise anti-Hezbollah groups, including those associated with revolutionary Sunni resistance movements who look on Shi'ites as apostates, have been humbled.

Third, the Hezbollah victory has had a shattering impact on America's allies in the region. Israeli intelligence officials calculated that Hezbollah could carry on its war for upwards of three months after its end in the middle of August. Hezbollah's calculations reflected Israel's findings, with the caveat that neither the Hezbollah nor Iranian leadership could predict what course to follow after a Hezbollah victory. While Jordan's intelligence services locked down any pro-Hezbollah demonstrations, Egypt's intelligence services were struggling to monitor the growing public dismay over the Israeli bombardment of Lebanon.

Open support for Hezbollah across the Arab world (including, strangely, portraits of Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah carried in the midst of Christian celebrations) has put those Arab rulers closest to the United States on notice: a further erosion in their status could loosen their hold on their own nations. It seems likely that as a result, Mubarak and the two Abdullahs are very unlikely to support any US program calling for economic, political or military pressures on Iran. A future war - perhaps a US military campaign against Iran's nuclear sites - might not unseat the government in Tehran, but it could well unseat the governments of Egypt, Jordan and perhaps Saudi Arabia.

At a key point in the Israel-Hezbollah contest, toward the end of the war, Islamist party leaders in a number of countries wondered whether they would be able to continue their control over their movements or whether, as they feared, political action would be ceded to street captains and revolutionaries. The singular notion, now common in intelligence circles in the United States, is that it was Israel (and not Hezbollah) that, as of August 10, was looking for a way out of the conflict.”

The dictators running the Arab states for American and British economic interests made the stunningly cynical move of secretly supporting Israel, hoping for a quick defeat of Hezbollah and a corresponding reduction in Iranian (i.e., Shi’ite) influence and power. Sunni-led governments agreed to allow the Jews to bomb the shit out of a Muslim country – with the cluster bombs and DU falling on a lot of Sunnis – just to attempt to perpetuate their immoral hold on power (this kind of Machiavellian leadership is one of the main things that angers bin Laden). Of course, the reason Iran has become so powerful is entirely thanks to the folly of the American/Zionist attack on Iraq, so what goes around comes around. Since Hezbollah wasn’t defeated quickly, internal pressures on the Arab states became intolerable, and the real fear of popular uprisings unseating governments across the Middle East led to the phone lines to Washington lighting up, which led in turn to the American Establishment putting down its champagne long enough to rein in the neocons and send Condi on her embarrassing trip to Lebanon (when the Israelis greeted her by bombing Qana). The secret recent meeting between Olmert and the Saudis, denied by both sides, must have been interesting.

The authors have many more interesting things to say, including:

“. . . recent history shows that those thousands of students and Lebanese patriots who protested Syria's involvement in Lebanon after the death of Rafiq Hariri found it ironic that they took refuge from the Israeli bombing in tent cities established by the Syrian government. Rice is correct on one thing: Syria's willingness to provide refuge for Lebanese refugees was a pure act of political cynicism - and one that the United States seems incapable of replicating. Syria now is confident of its political position. In a previous era, such confidence allowed Israel to shape a political opening with its most intransigent political enemies.

Tenth, and perhaps most important, it now is clear that a US attack on Iranian nuclear installations would be met with little support in the Muslim world. It would also be met by a military response that would collapse the last vestiges of America's political power in the region. What was thought to be a "given" just a few short weeks ago has been shown to be unlikely. Iran will not be cowed. If the United States launches a military campaign against the Tehran government, it is likely that America's friends will fall by the wayside, the Gulf Arab states will tremble in fear, the 138,000 US soldiers in Iraq will be held hostage by an angered Shi'ite population, and Iran will respond by an attack on Israel. We would now dare say the obvious - if and when such an attack comes, the United States will be defeated.”

Most importantly, the American Establishment knows this. It was great fun to play polo while the neocons ran the American government, but fun is fun and business is business. This is getting dangerous. The Bush Administration is both completely incompetent – I find it amazing that, in the face of all evidence to the contrary, some people continue to believe that fools like Cheney and Rumsfeld actually have a serious plan to lead to American hegemony over world oil resources – and treasonous, running American foreign policy for the sole benefit of the Israeli generals. An attack on Iran – whether by the United States or Israel – will permanently wreck a hundred years of careful planning and management of oil resources. That’s why the Establishment, which clearly, despite what Noam says, hasn’t been running the United States, had to get back in the saddle, and why there won’t be an attack on Iran (another reason is that Asian central bankers, who with a stroke of the pen can determine whether the United States is bankrupt or not, won’t let it happen).