With the UN Security Council about to pass an evidently worthless resolution that may or may not put an end to the fighting, it may be a moot point to discuss what Israel's war aims were when it responded to the Hezbollah attack of July 12. Nonetheless, as the issue as been joined by Jeff Weintraub
and Kevin Drum
, perhaps we should try to set the record straight.
Israel's war aims were neither to try to destroy the Hezbollah
entirely by air war, as Drum seems to think, nor to produce the miserable sort of resolution that must inevitably come from the morally bankrupt Security Council, nor did Israel entirely expect, as Weintraub seems to believe, that the UN would, for once, get it right, and actually undertake to enforce its resolutions 1559
Israel's aim in the initial air war was evidently to put pressure on the Lebanese government in order to force them to take responsibility, return the kidnapped soldiers and rein-in the Hezbollah. This is quite evident from comments made at the start of the war by PM Ehud Olmert, by military figures and by commentators, as well as from the nature of targets that were hit, which included Lebanese infrastructure- Beirut airport, bridges and roads that were used by Hezbollah and that symbolized the fact that the Lebanese government was allowing Hezbollah to operate freely in its confines.
This strategy failed for a number of reasons. Israeli decision makers failed to take into account the size of the gun that the Hezbollah hold to the heads of the Beirut government. It seemed unthinkable that after telling the world that they are innocent Lebanese, suffering at the hands of the evil Zionists because of violence perpetrated by the Hezbollah, the President of Lebanon would tell the Hezbollah that the Lebanese state and the Lebanese cabinet are behind them, and Prime Minister Seniora, a protege of the French and the Americans, would praise the Hezbollah as heroes and defenders of the south. The second failure was that the Israeli government failed to take into account that both France and the United States would misguidedly support this despicable puppet government as a "flegdling democracy." This was evident from the start, and I warned about it
. Secretary Rice repeatedly warned Israel against harming the Seniora government. For example, on July 13
, she stated:
.. it is, in the case of Lebanon, especially important that Israeli actions not undermine a new, fledgling democratic government, which obviously has its problems in that it has within it Hezbollah, which is the source of these attacks. And we understand that the Siniora government, therefore, has a very complicated situation and nobody wants to make that worse because, ultimately, the best chance for peace is going to be a democracy in Lebanon in which Syrian forces are out and remain out.
Israeli war aims were implicit in the July 12 statement of PM Olmert:
The events this morning are not terror attacks but actions of a sovereign state that attacked Israel for no reason. The Lebanese government, of which Hizbullah is a member, is trying to undermine regional stability. Lebanon is responsible and it will bear responsibility
On July 13, Ze'ev Schiff, Haaretz military correspondent commented:
Israel has no choice but to hold Lebanon responsible for what happens in its borders and for what comes out of it. Lebanon will likely wail as Israel strikes inside its territory and hits its infrastructure, but the Lebanese government must see itself as responsible for what Hezbollah does out of Lebanon. Particularly since Lebanon essentially rejected UN resolution 1559, which called for disarming the militia. Hamas and Hezbollah made the rules of the game with the ongoing rocket fire into Israel and the abduction of Israeli soldiers.
General Adam stated on July 12:
As to where to attack, the moment that the state of Lebanon is involved, everything is legitimate -- and it's important to know that. Everything is legitimate, and not just southern Lebanon and Hizballah's border positions. The moment a state is responsible, we will realize and demand this responsibility.
And after the Qana incident (in which 28 people were killed, not 56) the US government and world media stepped up the pressure on Israel for targeting "innocent" Lebanese civilians, and Secretary Rice kept insisting that a cease fire is a "matter of days."
Israel was seeking a diplomatic solution, in the sense that it was attempting to force the Lebanese government to rein-in the Hezbollah. This strategy was frustrated by US government and media pressure, which forced a change in Israeli policy and war aims.
Wilfully ignorant of the realities of the Middle East and Lebanese politics, the US continues, with France, to act as if the Lebanese government must not be held responsible for the acts of the Hezbollah. In fact, however, the Lebanese government has declared repeatedly that the armed wing of the Hezbollah, the Mowqawama Islamiya ("Islamic resistance") is part of the Lebanese government. Hezbollah representatives sit in the Lebanese government. Together with Nabih Berri, who represents the Amal movement that speaks for the remainder of the Shi'ites, they have successfully blocked any attempt at disarming the Hezbollah in what is euphemistically and unrealistically termed the "Lebanese national dialogue." It is a dialogue where one side holds an AK-47 to the head of the other, and dictates what should be said.
When UN Security Council Resolution 1559 was being debated, A Lebanese representative made the following remarkable statement:
MOHAMAD ISSA, Secretary-General of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Emigrants of Lebanon, said that there were no militias in Lebanon. There was only the national Lebanese resistance, which appeared after the Israeli occupation and which would remain so long as Israel remained. The resistance force existed alongside the Lebanese national forces. Lebanon determined the presence and size of the force, depending on the countryís need. The authority of Lebanon extended to all parts of Lebanon except those areas occupied by Israel.
Here is what Lebanese President, Emile Lahoud, a Syrian puppet said on Al Manara television about Hezbollah:
Nobody can defeat you. When we are united, we can remain steadfast and nobody will be able to defeat us. [applause] We know that when the liberation was achieved, it was a big blow to Israel. Now, they are retaliating. But, they will not succeed, because nobody is stronger than Lebanon when it is united and steadfast. I assert to you that they will cave in to the right in the final analysis. We say that we still have a land, prisoners, and many issues that need to be resolved. The United Nations is working, but not as required. The more time passes by, the more Israel will destroy us and our infrastructure. We can rebuild buildings. What counts is the people. You are the people and nobody is stronger than you. [applause] The state, with all its components, and the entire cabinet are with you. We will meet all your requirements. We know that you are not worried about anything. But, it is our duty to stand beside you and help you. The Lebanese state should do all that it can. [applause and chants of support for Lahhud] Rest assured Lebanon will not give up Al-Sayyid Nasrallah [applause]. Al-Sayyid [Nasrallah], the resistance, and the national army achieved liberation for Lebanon. We will not forget that. This will be written in the books of history, no matter what the Israelis do.
This view has remained, so far as anyone knows, the official view of the Lebanese government. That does not mean that it represents the view of the Lebanese people, nor even of Lebanese politicians. However, it is the view they are forced to adopt.
Interviewing a Hezbollah terrorist, the Guardian's Ghaith Abdul-Ahad reported the following, an illuminating explication of the situation of the Lebanese government:
The real battle is after the end of this war. We will have to settle score with the Lebanese politicians. We also have the best security and intelligence apparatus in this country, and we can reach any of those people who are speaking against us now. Let's finish with the Israelis and then we will settle scores later.
That is the "Lebanese democracy" that Israel was forced by the US to protect, scaling back its offensives on Beirut and Lebanese infrastructure, and resorting instead to a ground war.
For more about the Hezbollah and its relationship with the "government" of Lebanon, see http://www.zionism-israel.com/dic/Hezbollah.htm.
It is therefore somewhat ironic when Americans comment that Israel had to change its war aims because it did not succeed. Israel did not succeed because the US would not let it succeed. The US protected the bogus Lebanese "democracy" and allowed the Hezbollah to hide behind it.
Perhaps the silliest commentary of all was made by Charles Krauthammer, who whined that the IDF was not doing the job that the US hired it to do:
The United States has gone far out on a limb to allow Israel to win and for all this to happen. It has counted on Israel's ability to do the job. It has been disappointed. Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has provided unsteady and uncertain leadership. Foolishly relying on air power alone, he denied his
generals the ground offensive they wanted, only to reverse himself later.
Air power alone would have worked, Mr. Krauthammer, if the US had allowed Israel to use it against targets that hurt the Lebanese government, which is blocking the peace. The US in fact gave IDF an impossible task in Lebanon. Everyone understands that you cannot defeat a "guerilla" force without hurting the government that supports and hosts that force. In effect, Hezbollah is part of the Lebanese army. It used Lebanese infrasctructure and has the blessing of the Lebanese government. If the allies had been given the task of defeating the Wehrmacht in World War II, without being able to bomb German infrastructure or hurting the "fledgling Weimar democracy" the policy would not have had much success either. Krauthammer is supposed to be a friend of Israel. He is a remarkably unsympathetic friend. In this war, Israel has already lost over 50 soldiers and civilians - equivalent to over 2,500 American casualties relative to population, about as many as the US has suffered in the entire Iraq war. It should be remembered that after the Hezbollah killed 241 marines in Lebanon, the supposed champion of freedom and neocon exponent of "Victory," Ronald Reagan, removed US troops from Lebanon. When the going gets tough, the tough get going.
Israel toned down the air war that was inconvenient for the United States. Now Kevin Drum and his clones are insisting that Israel changed its war aims because the original goals proved unattainable. Of course they were unattainable, because stupid American diplomacy made them unattainable. Krauthammer is complaining that Israel didn't widen the ground war enough, after America pressured Israel into toning down the air war. But pursuing a ground war means that Israel will need to incur a lot more casualties. Krauthammer doesn't care. It is not his son whom he is contracting to fight for America in the IDF.
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