Uh-oh. I think Hezbollah’s been reading my blog. *UPDATED*

Day before yesterday, I wrote:

Reader Lulu send me an email pointing out something interesting, which is that Hezbollah is doing nothing right now.  You’d think that this would be a perfect time for Hezbollah to force a two-front war on Israel.  That it’s not doing so might be a good indication that, all propaganda to the contrary, Israel may have inflicted serious damage on it back in 2006.  Iran can replace the arms, but maybe she can’t replace the men.

And today I read the Hezbollah is starting to fire rockets from the North.  I wish I’d kept my mouth shut.

UPDATE:  And just idle curiousity, here, but why is no one shrieking about Hezbollah’s unprovoked attack on israel.  (Don’t bother with the answer.  I know it.  Israel by its very existence provokes attacks, right?)

A mish-mash

It’s been an incoherent day, one that never gave me the opportunity for contemplation and writing.  Instead, I’ve been bopping here and there, and dealing with one thing and another.  Nevertheless, I have been tracking the news, so I thought I’d just write up a mish-mash of thoughts about current issues and events.

Gaza

The top issue/event, obviously, is Gaza.  By now you’ve all seen the hysterical headline about Israel having blown up a UN school, killing scores of civilians.  At the exact second I read the words “UN school,” I knew it wasn’t a school at all but was, instead, a weapons storage facility and a headquarters for fighters.  Why did I know this?  Because the UN in Gaza is completely complicit with Hamas.  In that part of the world, the two are one and the same entity.  I also knew that the school wasn’t really a school because Gaza intentionally places fighters and weapons around children precisely so that it garner this type of scare headline.  Michelle Malkin has a fact-filled post detailing all the many ways in which my instincts on this one were dead on the money.

Speaking of Hamas setting its children up as targets so that it can further vilify Israel in the eyes of the world, you really must read Ron Rosenbaum’s article explaining why, to the extent there are differences between Hamas and the Nazis, Hamas is infinitely worse.  As part of that line of thinking, it’s worth noting that even the Nazis weren’t willing to sacrifice their own children merely to score propaganda points.

As is always the case, everyone in the world outside of America is urging Israel to back down.  (In America, while Obama is ominously quiet, even Dirty Harry Reid has acknowledged Israel’s right to defend against the non-stop rocket attacks that have poured death and destruction on the land for years now.)  In the past, Israel has listened.  This time, I’m hoping against hope that she gives the world the middle finger and does what she has to do to defend herself.  I’ve never understood why Israel, rather like the pathetic nerdy kid in high school, keeps twisting herself into damaging contortions to satisfy people who will despise her regardless.  Eventually, the nerd just has to go it alone and the hell with the critics.

Incidentally, although the world doesn’t deserve good fortune, if Israel is wise enough to give it the finger, it may just get good fortune anyway — the good fortune in this case being that an Israeli victory against Hamas in Gaza is also an Israeli victory against the mad Mullahs in Iran.  As has been the case for decades now, Israel is our proxy, and we should be grateful that she’s putting her bodies on the line so we don’t have to.

And one last word on the subject:  Reader Lulu send me an email pointing out something interesting, which is that Hezbollah is doing nothing right now.  You’d think that this would be a perfect time for Hezbollah to force a two-front war on Israel.  That it’s not doing so might be a good indication that, all propaganda to the contrary, Israel may have inflicted serious damage on it back in 2006.  Iran can replace the arms, but maybe she can’t replace the men.

God

In England, the atheists have launched an ad campaign encouraging people to abandon religion so that they can be happy.  One of the brains behind this initiative is Ariane Sherine. She decided to launch the ad campaign because “she became angry after noticing a set of Christian advertisements carrying a website address which warned that people who reject God are condemned to spend all eternity to ‘torment in Hell.’”

I’m perfectly willing to admit that trying to scare people into religion may not be the smartest way to go about things.  I do find the ad campaign peculiar, though, because I was under the impression that polls show religious people are more happy, not less happy, than the average atheist (putting aside the fact that the average vocal atheist always seem to be a pretty darn angry person).

As you all know, I’m a big believer in the many virtues of religion, although not particularly religious myself.  Aside from liking the core moral aspects religion brings, I’ve also always appreciated (and envied) the way religion brings meaning to life.

In a religious world, man is not just a random collection of atoms, molecules, cells and organs, put on earth to procreate and scrabble for food until he dies.  Instead, at least in the Judeo-Christian tradition with which I’m familiar, man’s life has meaning and purpose.  Whether God used evolution as his tool or instant creation, man exists in God’s image.  His corporeal body may not necessarily be the mirror image of God’s being, but he is in God’s image to the extent that his mind and spirit are attuned to justice and a higher purpose.  We’re not just meaningless bugs.  We are something special and our time on earth has meaning, whether we emphasize that in our own lives or not.

All of which is to say that it strikes me as mighty darn peculiar to advertise an absence of religion as the answer to the search for happiness.  You might as well say, “You’re a meaningless bug.  Get used to it.”

Tolerance

While the first wave of hysteria following the passage in California of Prop. 8 has finally died down, hard feelings continue.  A Catholic Church in San Francisco was covered with offensive graffiti, likening the church and its parishioners to Nazis. The beautiful irony of this story is that this particular church, located near the Castro district, has always been a welcoming place to gays.

Aside from the fact that vandals, by their very nature, can’t be expected to be intelligent (I guess), I find it strange that we live in a world in which hewing to unexceptional traditional values that span all cultures and all times is an invitation to vandalism.  As you know, I’d be perfectly happy to see the state get out of the marriage business, leaving that to religion, and instead get into the domestic partnership business, with an emphasis on encouraging stable behaviors that strengthen society.  Pending that unlikely situation, however, I can’t help but wonder if the gay marriage advocates realize that offending ordinary people who support ordinary values is not likely to advance their cause.

Hezbollah turned over mutilated bodies

In my post yesterday about the corpse/prisoner swap in which Israel exchanged, I noted that an inviolate body is a very important part of Jewish religious law, going back to the ancient Jewish revulsion against pagan sacrifice and the subsequent desecration of corpses. (I also noted that I didn’t think that was a sufficient reason to put a whole nation at risk by making it appear very weak in front of an enemy that lives in a hierarchical world, where one is either king of the hill or dirt beneath the enemy’s feet.)

Sadly, it turns out that Israel received two badly (and manifestly intentionally) mutilated bodies:

Rabbi Yisrael Weiss, former Chief Rabbi of the IDF, who was present during the transfer of the fallen soldiers yesterday, said that “the verification process yesterday was very slow, because, if we thought the enemy was cruel to the living and the dead, we were surprised, when we opened the caskets, to discover just how cruel. And I’ll leave it at that.”

I can only hope for the sake of Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev that this mutilation took place after their deaths.  It’s too horrible to contemplate that it may have happened before.

Incidentally, based upon my parents’ tales of dealing with Arabs in Palestine/Israel in the 1930s/1940s, I can make one guess as to the type of mutilation involved.  In a routinely used act of desecration that doesn’t need Freud to explain, Arabs who slaughtered Jewish men sliced off the men’s genitals (either before or after death), and stuffed them into the men’s mouths.

Hat tip:  Power Line

More Obama stupidity *UPDATED*

Not that they were ever really on, but when it comes to Obama, my gloves are off. I’ve concluded that the man is not just a liar and an ideologue, he’s stupid. With regard to the situation in Lebanon (where Hezbollah is using terror to topple the power of the democratically elected government), Obama has once again revealed that he is too dumb too live: except that, of course, he will live; it’s innocents in the Middle East (and the rest of the world, frankly) who will die. Richard Landes, at Augean Stables, has a great round-up of the various comments about Obama’s latest stupid foray in foreign policy.

UPDATE:  Not just stupid, but both actively corrupt and complicit in corruption, Chicago-style.  (H/t:  American Thinker)

Maybe Condi has a plan

I respect Condi Rice for the most part, but have thought her naive for believing (or, at least, appearing to believe) that the Palestinians want peace with Israel, as opposed to Israel in pieces.  David Brooks, however, thinks that there is a method to her madness, and that Iran’s follies may result in a back door route to some stability in the Middle East:

It’s not really about Israel and the Palestinians; it’s about Iran. Rice is constructing a coalition of the losing. There is a feeling among Arab and Israeli leaders that an Iran-Syria-Hezbollah-Hamas alliance is on the march. The nations that resist that alliance are in retreat. The peace process is an occasion to gather the “moderate” states and to construct what Martin Indyk of the Brookings Institution’s Saban Center calls an anti-Iran counter-alliance.

It’s slightly unfortunate that the peace process itself is hollow. It’s like having a wedding without a couple because you want to get the guests together for some other purpose. But that void can be filled in later. The main point is to organize the anti-Iranians around some vehicle and then reshape the strategic correlation of forces in the region.

Iran has done what decades of peace proposals have not done — brought Israel, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, the Palestinians and the U.S. together. You can go to Jerusalem or to some Arab capitals and the diagnosis of the situation is the same: Iran is gaining hegemonic strength over the region and is spreading tentacles of instability all around.

Though this article originated in the NY Times, I take its conclusions with a grain of salt, simply because I’ve come to distrust the Times.  Nevertheless, this is certainly not a wacky idea, and it does reflect an impulse to bring some central stability to a region that will become entirely unbalanced if the Iran-Syria-Hezbollah-Hamas axis does in fact ascend to real power, rather than stopping at the noises of power, along with the violence of terrorism.

This time it’s so not Israel’s fault

Let’s see if I’ve got my chronology right here:

On January 29, Hamas and Fatah announced a ceasefire prompted, I think by a reminder from their compatriots that their real job is to kill Jews.

On February 1, Hamas gunman ambushed Fatah trucks, killing 6 people, injuring 70, and kidnapping 15 people. A Fatah spokesman seemed concerned that this little fracas might be seen as “plunging a 3-day-old ceasefire into grave danger.”

On February 2 (that would be today), Hamas and Fatah engaged in “some of the worst fighting between Palestinian factions so far” in Gaza. The numbers involved are impressive and, as always, children get caught in the crossfire, such being the nature of war, especially Civil War:

At least 15 people were killed, including a 7-year-old boy, bringing the total for the past two days to 21. Nearly 200 more Palestinians, many of them civilians, have been hurt over the same period, as fierce shootouts erupted in Gaza City and the northern parts of the Gaza Strip, according to Palestinian hospitals.

Give themselves time to regroup and rearm, the combatants announced yet another ceasefire:

Hamas and Fatah leaders met at the Egyptian diplomatic mission in Gaza City this afternoon and agreed in principle to halt the violence.

Fresh ideas at the UN

I’ve long thought the UN irredeemably corrupt, with the miserable Kofi Annan merely a symptom, not a cause of the problem there. I’m wondering, though, if I might have to revise that thinking just a little bit, in light of something new at UNIFIL. Thanks to Laer, at Cheat-Seeking Missiles, I’ve learned that UNIFIL has gotten rid of the French commander brought in after the Israel-Hezbollah war — the one who thought his mandate was to prevent Israel at all costs from defending herself — and has replaced him with an Italian commander who has a strong reputation in anti-terrorism work:

The IDF on Sunday praised the United Nations’ decision to appoint Italian Gen. Claudio Graziano as the new head of the UNIFIL peacekeeping force in southern Lebanon.

Graziano, whose appointment has yet to be officially announced, is scheduled to take up his new post by mid-February, when French Maj.-Gen. Alain Pellegrini steps down after three years in the post.

“He is a serious officer,” IDF sources said of Graziano. “He takes his job seriously and we expect to see a continued crackdown on Hizbullah under his command.”

Graziano rose through the ranks in Italy’s Artillery Corps and commanded NATO’s Kabul Multinational Brigade in the past. He has extensive experience in combating insurgency and terrorism, according to the IDF.

Laer adds the right grace note to the above information:

When you think of it, the appointment of a terror-fighter to head the UN in Lebanon should not leave an odd, confused feeling. But it does, doesn’t it? If the UN’s mission is to promote world peace, why hasn’t it stood shoulder to shoulder with us to fight the greatest threat to world peace the world has faced since the Axis Powers?

I opened this post by saying there might be some fresh air blowing at the UN. However, I recognize that one appointment does not a trend make. Let’s see what other stories come out of the UN in the upcoming months when it comes to backing democratic stability and attacking tyrannical terrorism.

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Israel fights back

Israel has usually, although not always, been adept in the battlefield. She’s been a total failure in the media. However, for the first time, I’m seeing signs that she’s fighting back:

Israel’s military, which has been accused of abuses in its war against Hezbollah this summer, has declassified photographs, video images and prisoner interrogations to buttress its accusation that Hezbollah systematically fired from civilian neighborhoods in southern Lebanon and took cover in those areas to shield itself from attack.

Lebanon and international human rights groups have accused Israel of war crimes in the 34 days of fighting in July and August, saying that Israel fired into populated areas and that civilians accounted for a vast majority of the more than 1,000 Lebanese killed.

Israel says that it tried to avoid civilians, but that Hezbollah fired from civilian areas, itself a war crime, which made those areas legitimate targets.

In a new report, an Israeli research group says Hezbollah stored weapons in mosques, battled Israelis from inside empty schools, flew white flags while transporting missiles and launched rockets near United Nations monitoring posts.

The detailed report on the war was produced by the Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center at the Center for Special Studies, a private research group headed by Reuven Erlich, a retired colonel in military intelligence, who worked closely with the Israeli military.

Read all about it here.

Of course, this being a NY Times story, with input from a Beirut-based stringer, it (a) refers to the Qana bombing without question, although bloggers pointed out that there were lots of problems with the claim that it was an Israeli attack against innocent Lebanese civilians; and (b) quotes liberally from the anti-Israel Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International. Nevertheless, even these other sources — all opinion, all animus, all the time — can’t steer the Times away from hard facts such as real-time videos and photos of Hezbollah action, and from videotaped Hezbollah confessions, all pointing to a concerted plan to use civilian neighborhoods as staging areas for military action.

By the way, most bloggers were showing this footage throughout the war, since it was available on YouTube. How typical that, after maligning Israel and advancing Hezbollah propaganda all through the war and for months after, the old media finally gets around to some actual facts.

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Another reason not to like the French right now

From American Thinker:

The French will flex military their “military muscle” to shoot down Israeli observation jets. After years of ignoring Hezbollah preparations to terrorize Israel, after hiding a video that could have helped Israel find out what happened to soldiers murdered by Hezbollah in 2001 (the kidnappers used trucks with UNIFIL identification, trucks that UNIFIL found with the blood of the Israeli victims and that were promptly returned to Hezbollah), after providing Hezbollah with information about Israeli troop movements during the recent Hezbollah-Israel war, after stating that it will not disarm Hezbollah terrorists or prevent their return to southern Lebanon, UNIFIL finally finds some backbone: they intend to shoot at Israeli aircraft monitoring Hezbollah terrorists.

Here’s the story from Haaretz:

Commanders of the French contingent of the United Nations force in Lebanon have warned that they might have to open fire if Israel Air Force warplanes continue their overflights in Lebanon, Defense Minister Amir Peretz told the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee on Monday.

Peretz said that nevertheless, Israel would continue to patrol the skies over Lebanon as long as United Nations resolution 1701 remained unfilfilled, adding that such operations were critical for the country’s security, especially as the abducted IDF soldiers remain in Hezbollah custody and the transfer of arms continue.

Over the past few days, Peretz said, Israel had gathered clear evidence that Syria was transfering arms and ammunition to Lebanon, meaning that the embargo imposed by UN Resolution 1701 was not being completely enforced.

I do not like the French. They are unprincipled.

The fancy dress pig ball

As you read this about Hezbollah’s victory party, remember this: “[A]t the end of the day, even if you put a calico dress on it and call it Florence, a pig is still a pig.” Bradshaw v. Unity Marine Corporation, Inc., 147 F.Supp.2d 668, (S.D. Tex. 2001). In this case, you can call yourself the victor as much as you want, but the facts on the ground are what they are. And while Israel may not have had the victory she needed, Hezbollah did not have the victory it wanted.

UPDATE: If one believes Reuters, Hezbollah may indeed still have something to shout about.

Israel, on another learning curve

Writing at National Review Online, Emanuele Ottolenghi makes a good case that, while Israel might not have won decisively in this last go round, Hezbollah did not achieve any of its objectives at all, and suffered some serious losses all around, both in terms of soldiers and materiels. Ottolenghi also shows that the myth of “invincible Israel” was not shattered, because it’s always been that — just a myth. Although Israel has survived each conflict with the surrounding Arab states and non-governmental armies, it was only in 1967 that she moved with overwhelming speed, and even then she suffered tremendous casualties (especially in Jerusalem), and faced an arduous, illusory “peace” over the next 40 years. Nevertheless, what’s been important is that Israel is not stagnant; from each encounter, she’s learned:

There is a pattern, then: Each war brings Israel a new challenge. Each time, it takes Israel time to absorb the blow, understand its nature and mechanisms, and then make elaborate corrections and improvements to its combat doctrine. Israel has lost battles in the past. It learned from its mistakes and it improved its fighting capabilities the next time around. In this worn-out recent war with Hezbollah, Israel’s performance was no different from that in past wars. At a heavy price, it inflicted a severe, but not decisive, blow to Hezbollah. It will now learn how to fight better next time around.

What about the last myth, the idea that Israel cannot digest casualties anymore?

If this were true, how could we explain Israel’s victory in the second Intifada? Over 1,000 civilians were shredded to bits by Palestinian terror. Yet, Israeli society soldiered on — literally. In the latest round of fighting, it was Israel’s leadership that balked at the risk of casualties, not the country, which from left to right was united in an unprecedented support for a more comprehensive and aggressive campaign to finish off Hezbollah once and for all. Israel’s home front did not break down, despite a month spent in shelters in the North, and the severe shortcomings of its logistical machine and those who were in charge of it. Israelis proved their resilience and their stubborn will to stay and put up a fight, for when the real volley of missiles comes in from further afield.

As for the future, these myths and the misperceptions on which they may be based will no doubt contribute to the next round of war. When that comes, one should take note of how the two societies at war responded to their perceived successes and failures.

Israel will now have a commission of inquiry, whose outcomes may end the careers of military and political leaders. It will reflect on its mistakes. It will cry over the futility of the deaths of so many of its best, due to those mistakes. It will blame those responsible and it will demand a heavy price of them. But it will get its answers.

What of Lebanon? Amidst the ruins of Beirut, the rubble of the bridges over the Litani, and the craters punctuating the highways, what does Nasrallah do? He proclaims victory. What does Lebanese prime minister Fouad Siniora do? He cries in front of the cameras, praises Hezbollah, and clings on to the myths of victory even as evidence of defeat is all around. They do not set up independent commissions, and they do not summon generals, politicians, and clerics, demanding they take responsibility. The last time an Arab country had its own commission of inquiry about a military defeat was in Iraq, in 1949. That precedent will remain the exception. Lebanon will not inquire now into how a foreign agent, having taken over half the country and infiltrated the government at all levels, dragged it into someone else’s war. It will do away with the need to understand what went wrong by proclaiming victory. So that when war returns, the “shattered myth” will rise again, as reality catches up with the myths of Arab rhetoric.

You can read the whole of Ottolenghi’s article here.

By the way, if you want to read something less optimistic — much less optimistic — Rachel Neuwirth, at American Thinker, envisions a scenario in which America abandons Israel to go it alone against Iran.

Defining Hezbollah

As part of a superb article about Hezbollah, the war with Israel, and the larger ramifications of that war and its outcome, Dan Gordon properly identifies Hezbollah and its goals:

Hezb’allah is not your father’s terrorist organization. This is not a group of loosely affiliated cells of would-be hijackers or suicide bombers. Hezb’allah is a terrorist army, trained like an army, organized like an army, funded and equipped like an army, with one glaring difference. The main use of its arsenal was terror aimed at Israel’s civilian population while hiding behind Lebanon’s civilian population. Its intent was to cause maximum civilian casualties amongst both. This was not by accident. This was by design.

This was Hezb’allah’s war, planned and prepared for six years, funded by close to a billion dollars by Iran, aided by Syria. One of the great benefits to the West to come out of this war (if they choose not to turn a blind eye to it) is the certain knowledge that Hezb’allah is Iran’s terrorist operational arm. It is the terrorist extension of Iran’s expressed foreign policy.

It is not a coincidence that Hezb’allah launched its totally unprovoked attack across Israel’s internationally recognized border, killing and kidnapping Israeli soldiers and dragging Lebanon and Israel into a war which neither one wanted at exactly the moment when the international community had issued its ultimatum to Iran. That ultimatum was: “Cease your efforts to develop nuclear weapons or face the sanctions of the International Community.” Iran’s response was Hezb’allah’s war.

Even a cursory examination of Hezb’allah’s statements, captured documents, the weapons it procured over six years and instantly deployed, provides an insight into their war aims and the battle plan to achieve those aims. Hezb’allah announced in the clearest possible way that it was its intent to turn Southern Lebanon into a graveyard for the IDF. This was not mere rhetoric. It was their plan.

By the way, I’m well aware that the quotation above gives a much more accurate rendition of the way in which to spell “Hezb’allah.”  That spelling emphasizes the army’s Islamic cast — that is, it’s a religious army intended to spread a radical view of Allah, not a national army.  I have enough problem with apostrophes at the best of times, though, so really have no interest in embarking on more typographical nightmares.

It all depends on how you define victory

The meme has been that Israel lost.  Hezbollah still exists, Israel had to cede control of her fight to the UN (blech), and so on and so on.  However, winning or losing is often described in terms of what the parties to the engagement sought to achieve.  Hezbollah sought to destroy Israel.  Israel sought to prevent Hezbollah from doing that and to get its soldiers back (and, as to that, it has, to date, failed).  Tigerhawk takes these facts and spins them counter to the meme:

Since Hezbollah still has weapons, Nasrallah is still in charge and alive, and Hez can still fire rockets at Israel, Hezbollah has won. In comparison, since Israel has been unable to decimate and disarm Hezbollah, kill Nasrallah and suppress Hezbollah rockets, Israel has lost. Hezbollah wins by virtue of a very low bar; Israel loses by virtue of impossibly high expectations.

[There's some analysis here about end goals and outcomes, which you should read at the source, and then Tigerhawk comes the conclusion.]

I have to admit, I am having a hard time seeing how Israel lost here — as if anyone can actually win a war in 4 weeks. The tortured calculus of the Hezbollah victory evades me. Everybody acknowledges that Israel defeated Egypt and Jordan in 1967 and again in 1973. Why? Well all Israel really had to do was survive. That’s what everybody has forgotten. That’s all Israel needs to do to win. Survive. It’s the other guys who are trying to destroy Israel, not the other way around.

Hat tip:  Cheat-Seeking Missiles

A bizarre juxtaposition, or the Chutzpah of it all

At the UN today, the “Arab Group” made its ad hoc contribution to the Draft International Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. To the existing preamble paragraph, they proposed including this language to describe what they perceive as an existing problem:

“Concerned that situations of armed conflict, foreign occupation and the occurrence of natural disasters have considerably increased the experience of disability in war-stricken and disaster-prone countries, as well as having especially devastating consequences for the human rights of persons with disabilities” [Emphasis in original]

The proposal for addressing this concern?

“States parties shall take, in accordance with their obligations under international law, including international humanitarian law and international human rights law, all necessary measures to ensure the safety and protection of persons with disabilities under foreign occupation, and that institutions which provide them with care and rehabilitation are not targeted or placed in danger”.

So, there’s your principle: the “Arab group” is terribly worried that foreign invaders will injure the local population’s disabled citizens. They want to correct that situation by making sure that the handicapped “are not targeted or placed in danger.” I don’t think I’m stretching too much to imagine that this humanitarian sounding paragraph, coming as it does from the “Arab Group,” is intended to match up with the propaganda that emerged from Lebanon about Israeli assaults against innocent civilians.

Have you got this concept firmly in mind? Good. Now cast your mind back to a story that emerged from Lebanon — from Lebanese in Lebanon — two weeks ago:

A French language Lebanese publication, citing an unnamed source in Hezbollah, has claimed that the organization placed a rocket launcher on the roof of the notorious building in Qana to provoke an Israeli attack and brought invalid children inside to serve as victims and blacken Israel’s name.

The Lebanese magazine LIBANOSCOPIE, associated with Christian elements which support the anti-Syrian movement called the “March 14 Forces,” report that Hizbullah masterminded a plan that would result in the killing of innocents in Qana, in an attempt to foil Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Siniora’s “Seven Points Plan” calling for deployment of the Lebanese army in southern Lebanon and the disarming of Hizbullah. The magazine reported:

“We have it from a credible source that Hezbollah, alarmed by Siniora’s plan, has concocted an incident that would help thwart the negotiations…. Hezbollah gunmen placed a rocket launcher on the roof in Qana and brought disabled children inside, in a bid to provoke a response by the Israeli Air Force. In this way, they were planning to take advantage of the death of innocents and curtail the diplomatic initiative,”

the site stated.

So far as I know — and I’m happy to be corrected — no one has stepped forward to discredit this story. I am reminded inexorably of what happens when a man who used to take every woman’s “no” to mean “yes” becomes father to a girl: he’s the strictest father on earth, because he knows the evil that lurks in some men’s hearts.

UPDATE:  Confederate Yankee reminds us that Arab Islamists have, on at least one occasion, found it useful to a handicapped child as a suicide bomber.

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Labels and pigs

In the wake of the ceasefire between Israel and Hezbollah, stories are popping up all over that Hezbollah, Iran and the New York Times have loudly been trumpeting a Hezbollah victory.  Others say the opposite is true.  And even I, while I don’t think Hezbollah won, don’t think Israel won other, something that may be an inherent problem in asymmetrical warfare.  As someone said (Dennis Prager?) this is not the type of war that will end with the defeated party boarding the U.S.S. Nimitz and signing a formal surrender.

But, as usual, I’m digressing wildly.  One of the MSM’s assumptions, and one driving so many of its stories and analyses, is that it believes that, because Hezbollah declared victory, it must indeed be the victor.  And all I can think of is a line from a Texas district court decision:

But at the end of the day, even if you put a calico dress on it and call it Florence, a pig is still a pig.

Bradshaw v. Unity Marine Corporation, Inc., 147 F.Supp.2d 668, (S.D. Tex. 2001). Hezbollah can declare itself the victor as much as it wants, but that doesn’t make it so.  Time will tell, not self-promoting rhetoric.

By the way, the whole Bradshaw decision is pretty damn funny.  Even if you’re not a lawyer and don’t follow the maritime legalize, you might want to take a few minutes to read the decision.  I’ve known many crayon writing lawyers myself over the years.

The missing piece in Israel’s defeat

This is the start of a Stratfor analysis I received today:

An extraordinary thing happened in the Middle East this month. An Israeli army faced an Arab army and did not defeat it — did not render it incapable of continued resistance. That was the outcome in 1948, 1956, 1967, 1973 and 1982. But it did not happen in 2006. Should this outcome stand, it will represent a geopolitical earthquake in the region — one that fundamentally shifts expectations and behaviors on all sides.

It is not that Hezbollah defeated the Israel Defense Forces (IDF). It did not. By most measures, it got the worst of the battle. Nevertheless, it has been left standing at the end of the battle. Its forces in the Bekaa Valley and in the Beirut area have been battered, though how severely is not yet clear. Its forces south of the Litani River were badly hurt by the Israeli attack. Nevertheless, the correlation of forces was such that the Israelis should have dealt Hezbollah, at least in southern Lebanon, a devastating blow, such that resistance would have crumbled. IDF did not strike such a blow — so as the cease-fire took effect, Hezbollah continued to resist, continued to inflict casualties on Israeli troops and continued to fire rockets at Israel. Hezbollah has not been rendered incapable of continued resistance, and that is unprecedented.

The beginning implies, and the rest of the text states outright, that Hezbollah had the military strength to resist total defeat (something it did with Iran’s and Syria’s backing, of course).  The whole thing pivots on military strength and on Israeli and Hezbollah military tactics.

I think, though, that the Stratfor analysis misses a matched set of facts that did not exist in prior wars between Israelis and Arabs:  (1) the fact that modern weaponry is capable of targeted strikes, which makes broad strikes appear unethical; and (2) Hezbollah’s willingness to hide behind civilians — and even to use them as bait to score propaganda victories.

Things were different in prior wars.  In the old days, bombs were sort of generally aimed, and landed wherever they landed.  No one expected an army to target its missiles to the millimeter so as to avoid all or most civilian casualties.  That civilians were hit was considered an ordinary aspect of war, a misfortune, but not a sin.

The other thing that has changed is that the Arabs never before intentionally put their civilians in the line of fire.  For example, in 1948, the Arab armies expressly warned the civilians to get out of the way of the fighting, with the promise that, when the fighting ended, they could return to rape and pillage to their heart’s content.  (And so were born the refugee camps.)

These two new factors make it virtually impossible for a country with a conscience to fight an effective war — especially one played out in a public eye hostile to that country in the first place.  If Israel could have played by the old rules — rules that allow you to drop big bombs wherever the enemy and its weapons are — it would have won this war in the first few days, I think.  However, it couldn’t do that.  It was expected to target its fighting around civilians, and Hezbollah made this ever more difficult by integrating itself more and more into the civilian population.  This forced Israel to withhold her full firing power and, when even her restraint and military sophistication couldn’t stop civilian deaths (especially if the bodies were carted in for effect), it exposed her to virulent and increasing world censure.

In other words, the new asymmetry of warfare between a country with very sophisticated weapons and a conscience, on the one hand, and a country with fairly sophisticated weapons and no conscience whatsoever, on the other hand,  rendered Israel’s greater military might almost useless.

Again, this is not just about Israel.  This is about the asymmetry of all modern warfare.  It’s about living in a time when war is no longer considered a fact of life, and when large countries that go to war are also believed to be acting on immoral impulses.  The modern dream of warfare, as swift, surgical incursions with minimal damage, and complete victory, is a chimera.  It turns out that, as long as the other, weaker side is willing to take the hits, it has the advantage, provided that it can use the West’s own standards and morality against it.

Hezbollah takes a page from the Nazi script

Before the Nazis killed the Jews, they executed those they deemed unfit because of physical or mental handicaps. My goyish uncle, who was institutionalized because he was “crazy” (we now think he might have been homosexual), was one of the first the Nazis executed in their drive to purify the Aryan nation.

In yet another scary analogy between Hezbollah and the Nazis, reports are emerging from the Lebanese themselves that Hezbollah may have “seeded” the building in Qana with mentally and physically handicapped children, and then deliberately exposed the building to Israeli missile fire. In that way, they got two for the price of one: they got rid of children they deemed unworthy of life and they managed to score a major propaganda coup against Israel.

With regard to the latter point — that Hezbollah set it up so that Israel pulled the trigger — it is worthwhile again remembering Golda Meir’s words: “When peace comes, we will perhaps in time be able to forgive the Arabs for killing our sons. But it will be harder for us to forgive them for having forced us to kill their sons.” How much harder will it be for the Israelis, who were themselves victims of a genocide aimed at racial purification, ever to forgive Hezbollah for making Israel the hand that may have carried out Hezbollah’s deranged vision of racial purification.

I’ll mention here, because I can’t resist, that Peter Singer, a leading American ethicist wiuth an endowed chair at Princeton would agree with the Nazis and Hezbollah. He advocates giving parents a 30 day window within which to destroy “defective” infants. Like Hitler, he too is a vegetarian, although I doubt Hitler would have been okay with Singer’s support for bestiality — as long as the cow consents. He’s also a virulent anti-Bush critic, who has argued that Bush is evil. I don’t know if that last fact tells us more about the loonies attracted to Bush Derangement Syndrome, or about how grateful we should be that Bush, and not someone of whom Singer approves, is President.

Hat tip: American Thinker

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Interesting developments in Lebanon

Again, fairly overwhelming work and family commitments will keep my blogging nonexistent, but there’s interesting stuff in the Middle East as I discovered when I took a break to read up-to-the-minute news and analysis at the Captain’s Quarters.  The Lebanese government is falling, Hezbollah is fighting harder, and Israel may actually have ended up in a situation in which the UN can’t shriek if she presses forwards into Lebanon.  I’ll keep my fingers crossed that this has a good outcome for Israeli and American interests — the good outcome being that Hezbollah, our mutual enemy, will be destroyed or dramatically disabled with the UN hopeless to assist it.

Israel loses the war

Say it ain’t so, Joe.  The latest report is that Olmert accepted the UN brokered peace deal.  Without even knowing the details, I’m absolutely certain that any “peace” deal that goes through the is a loss for Israel:

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has accepted an emerging Mideast cease-fire deal and informed the United States of his decision, Israeli officials said Friday.

Olmert will recommend that his government approve the deal in its meeting on Sunday, the officials said on condition of anonymity because they are not authorized to brief journalists on the internal discussions.

It was not immediately clear whether Israel’s expanded ground offensive would be frozen. Defense officials said it appeared the campaign would be halted.

I have a friend who saw this coming, who said that Israelis — especially the million Israelis already dislocated by war — will begin a mass exodus from Israel, and that Israel will cease to exist in three years.  He’s been prescient about most things.  Let’s hope he’s wrong about this one.

Hezbollah’s face

I can’t remember where I read it, but someone pointed out that, while in Iraq the terrorists like to show themselves, Hezbollah prefers an off camera presence, with the emphasis on the real and imagined bomb damage to Lebanese people and structures. It is interesting, therefore, to see at least one Hezbollah face. The video below is from the interrogation of Salim ali Saliman, a long-time Hezbollah fighter, trained in Iran and by Iranians, who participated in the kidnapping that precipitated this war. It’s a fascinating, sad, scary video. A silly thing that leapt out at me was his birthday: July 14, 1984, a date that brought with it two associations: Bastille Day (July 14, 1789) and the Orwellian world of 1984.

The BBC and its pro-Hezbollah agenda

The foiled bomb plot in England is again bringing into stark relief how the BBC manipulates the news to hide the Islamist component behind all the terror attacks worldwide and to focus blame on Israel. The most recent indictment is a Wall Street Journal commentary from William Shawcross, a British writer. As far as I can tell, it’s in the “pay per view” section of the WSJ, since I didn’t see it in the free Opinion Journal section. If you have access, read it. If you don’t, fair use means I can still share with you Shawcross’ major indictment:

It took President Bush to tell the truth to Britain about the alleged massive plot to blow U.S.-bound airliners out of the sky. In his first comment on the apparently foiled attempt, he put it simply: “This was a stark reminder that this nation is at war with Islamic fascists.”

He is right, but in the first news reports in Britain yesterday, the words “Islamic” or “Muslim” were hardly mentioned, let alone the dread word “fascist.” Instead the common code-words on television were that the 24 men arrested were “British-born” and “of Pakistani origin.” No mention of their Islamist ideology. Does the BBC think they might turn out to be from Pakistan’s embattled Christian minority? I don’t think so.

In Europe, the truth is so terrible that we are in denial. Perhaps it is understandable. We simply do not know how to deal with the fact that we really are threatened by a vast fifth column, that there are thousands of European-born people, in Britain, in France, in Holland, in Denmark — everywhere — who wish to destroy us. You see this denial in the coverage of Israel’s war against Hezbollah. The deaths in Lebanon are utterly tragic. But if you watched only British television, particularly the BBC, you would be hard-pressed to understand that Israel has been forced into a war for its survival. Last weekend people marched in an anti-Israel march though London carrying banners proclaiming “We are all Hezbollah Now.”

Yes, we in England are all one with a terrorist group that has murdered more Americans than any group save Al Qaeda; we are all one with a terrorist group that is dedicated to wiping out a nation and all its citizens; we are all one with an organization that deliberately targets civilians to achieve its religio-political goals; we are all one with a radical Islamist organization that seeks to impose Sharia law on Lebanon, with all that entails — the total isolation and subjugation of women, the marginalization or death of all non-Muslims, and the death penalty for adultery, listening to music, playing sports, eating ice cream, shaving a beard, falling afoul of the local imam, etc.

This kind of perverted thinking, where happy people parade the streets of London, cheerfully and loudly proclaiming their allegiance to mass murders of the worst kind can occur only when you have a dominant, Leftist, state-controlled media that has perverted the discourse, lied about the facts, and hidden all contrary information. Apparently George Orwell was off by 22 years, but otherwise he got it right.

UPDATE: James Lewis writes compellingly about the worldview the BBC trickles through to its captive audience in Great Britain.

UPDATE II:  Just a little editing detail.  I’m pathetically bad at “s” apostrophes.  My brain knows where they go, but my fingers tend to insert them, or ignore them, on an entirely random basis.  I have removed the inapposite apostrophe from the post’s title, but apologize in advance for all the other misplaced apostrophes you have found and will continue to find.

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What does the British bomb plot mean?

I just got to my computer now, which has me many hours behind early risers, let alone those early risers on the East Cost. I’m therefore only just assimilating the news about the foiled plot to blow up multiple US-bound British planes in the air. My first thought on hearing the news was that, maybe, just maybe, this will break people’s complacency and strike a mortal blow at the peacenik’s naive believe that all we need to do is sit down and talk to the terrorists. I then realized that was a ridiculous hope. Because, in these people’s minds, we, not the terrorists, are the enemy, this will be viewed as nothing more than a propaganda coup. That is, the narrative will be converted into a conspiracy between the American and British secret services to frame innocent British Pakistanis so as to strike fear into the British and American public, therefore shoring up War support.

Indeed, even if the planes had blown up, the narrative would have been unchanged. Why do I know this? I know this because more than a third of Americans think the US government attacked the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, killing almost 3,000 American citizens, so as to have an excuse to flex its imperialist muscles. That they manage to think this all evidence to the contrary shows that it will take a paradigm shift of nuclear proportions (and I don’t use that phrase lightly) to remove them from the anti-American camp.

In any event, while I’m late to today’s big news, one of the virtues is that I’m in time for other people’s analyses. The first I got this morning, in my inbox, came from Stratfor. Their initial conclusions are actually comforting, not frightening, when it comes to analyzing Al Qaeda’s strength:

First, while there obviously remains a threat from those not only sympathetic to al Qaeda, but actually participating in planning with those in the al Qaeda apex leadership, their ability to launch successful attacks outside of the Middle East is severely degraded.

Second, if the cell truly does have 50 people and 21 have already been detained, then al Qaeda might have lost its ability to operate below the radar of Western — or at least U.K. — intelligence agencies. Al Qaeda’s defining characteristic has always been its ability to maintain operational security. If that has been compromised, then al Qaeda’s importance as a force has diminished greatly.

Third, though further attacks could occur, it appears al Qaeda has lost the ability to alter the political decision-making of its targets. The Sept. 11 attack changed the world. The Madrid train attacks changed a government. This failed airliner attack only succeeded in closing an airport temporarily.

Fourth, the vanguard of militant Islam appears to have passed from Sunni/Wahhabi al Qaeda to Shiite Iran and Hezbollah. It is Iran that is shaping Western policies on the Middle East, and Hezbollah who is directly engaged with Israel. Al Qaeda, in contrast, appears unable to do significantly more than issue snazzy videos.

Of course, the above, while allowing me to feel less worried about Al Qaeda, notes that there has simply been a shift in the terrorist center, from Al Qaeda, to Hezbollah/Iran. Currently, those terrorist entities (and, even though Iran is a nation, I count it as a terrorist entity) are focusing their energies on conventional warfare waged against Israel, which they view as the US proxy in the Middle East. I wonder whether they will maintain that traditional military focus or, as Al Qaeda retreats, creating a vacuum for headline grabbing attacks on civilians, if Hezbollah/Iran will also move to fill that gap.

UPDATE:  I was prescient.  I just tuned in to the second hour of Michael Medved and heard him announce that, during the first hour, he reported on (and talked to) all the people who claim that the arrests in Britain are just a Rove-ian plot to advance the Bush war machine.  I’m working on some deadline intense material today, so won’t follow up on it, but I bet all of you can quickly find places on the internet that develop that theme.

Cognitive dissonance in Arab reporting about the Israel-Hezbollah War

Just because I was curious, I checked out the Kuwait Times online to see how an Arab nation that’s pretty much on the sidelines is reporting on the Israel-Hezbollah War. I didn’t have to look very far. One of the headlined articles is “Israel on baby-killing spree.” Bizarrely, the article not only does not support these extreme conclusion, it contains facts supporting the opposite conclusion — which is that Israel is trying not to hurt Lebanon’s civilian population.

For example, the first two paragraphs, which one might think would support the title’s proposition, contain some fairly straightforward reporting, including a statement from an Israeli spokeswoman to the effect that they tried to clear civilians from a Hezbollah target:

Israeli air strikes killed 14 villagers in south Lebanon yesterday as Beirut pleaded for a swift end to Israel’s war with Hezbollah guerrillas that has cost around 1,000 Lebanese and 101 Israeli lives in four weeks. Diplomats at the United Nations in New York said a vote on a resolution to end the war might not take place before tomorrow, as fighting in south Lebanon raged on. The vote has been delayed because Lebanon demanded the resolution include a withdrawal of Israeli forces from the south. “We are working to have a quick ceasefire or at the very minimum an end to acts of aggression,” said Prime Minister Fuad Saniora. “Then displaced people can return to their homes.” An Arab League delegation yesterday also called for the UN Security Council to order that Israeli forces be withdrawn from Lebanese territory as part of any UN resolution on a truce deal.

Israeli air raids killed 14 people and wounded 23 in the southern village of Ghaziyeh, rescue workers and hospital officials said. The bombs fell as mourners elsewhere in the village were burying 15 people killed by a raid there on Monday. An Israeli army spokeswoman said the building hit belonged to a senior Hezbollah member and was not near the funeral. She said all residents had been told in advance to leave. Four Israeli soldiers were killed fighting guerrillas, raising Israel’s military and civilian death toll to 101 in the war ignited by Hezbollah’s capture of two soldiers on July 12.  [Emphasis mine.]

The story then goes on to acknowledge the rain of Hezbollah rockets on Israel, as well as to report in straightforward fashion Israel’s statement that it will expand operations, dissatisfaction with the UN proposed peace plans, Beirut’s intention to send 15,000 troops to Southern Lebanon, etc.  From this news it switches to human interest stories about Hezbollah supporters complaining both about Israeli aggression and the passivity of the Lebanese government.  One of these people obliquely acknowledges Israel’s efforts to protect Lebanese civilians when he complains that his community didn’t get the usual Israel notice that the village was an imminent target.  I don’t know if that means Israel intentionally didn’t give notices, the civilians didn’t get the notices, or the village was an accidental target.  Because Israel is getting no credit for her efforts to insulate civilians — as is evidence by the article’s fact-unrelated headline — she may stop dropping the notices, because all they do is allow Hezbollah, which has mobile missile launchers, to relocate.

And that’s kind of the whole article.  There’s not a single word in the article to support the headline — indeed, there are at least two points in which the article points to Israel’s efforts to protect noncombatants — and yet there lies that horrible accusation — Israel is intentionally slaughtering Arab children.

It’s a peculiar cognitive dissonance that allows a newspaper to do what is, by MSM standards, a fairly straightforward report, but nevertheless to caption it with something that parallels a medieval blood libel.  I’d be curious to know about the effect on Kuwaiti readers of this chasm between lede and story.  Does the average reader even get to the story?  Does he read it and wonder, as I did, why the headline was attached and, if he does, does he start looking with a jaundiced eye at other, similar claims?  Or does he simply accept with equanimity an extreme claim for which there is no proof?

Red cross and media complicit in faked scenes

My past few photograph posts have been following stories about Hajj’s decision to manipulate the photographs he took.  Of course, that’s not the only thing that’s happening in Lebanon.  Another huge problem is the fact that Hezbollah is faking entire scenes for photographers’ benefit.  EU Referendum follows one such staged event which is especially disturbing for two reasons:  first, the Red Cross appears to be participating actively in this bizarre charade and, second, a genuine dead child is dragged around, and manhandled, as a prop in this grotesque show.