[lit-ideas] Re: War on Lebanon Planned for at least a Year

  • From: "Stan Spiegel" <writeforu2@xxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: <lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Mon, 24 Jul 2006 11:05:14 -0400

Omar -

If you walked onto a football field and, standing between the two goals on either side of you, you dropped a book of cigarette matches onto the field - you'd have a clear picture of the relationship between little Israel and all the surrounding Arab states. There you'd have a sense of proportion.

Israel is tiny and -- surrounded by all those hostile Arab states -- you'd be crazy not to do a little contingent planning in case this or that happened. Israel isn't crazy. They've had enough experience with hostile Arab countries ganging up on them. They don't want to be surprised again.

Would you want to be surprised? Imagine Omar surrounded by 20-some-odd tough guys who want nothing better than to turn you into pulp. Would you do some planning, Omar, just in case?

I think so!

Here's Israel, the 96-pound weakling, who developed the muscles to defend itself. The article you sent on the war on Lebanon has an implied criticism of Israel's pre-planning.

That's a pretty tough neighborhood little Israel lives in. Imagine if they didn't do any shrewd planning. They would have been obliterated many times over.

Isn't that what you would like?

Stan Spiegel
not a very good planner myself
Portland, Maine

----- Original Message ----- From: "Omar Kusturica" <omarkusto@xxxxxxxxx>
To: <lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Sent: Monday, July 24, 2006 7:24 AM
Subject: [lit-ideas] War on Lebanon Planned for at least a Year


War on Lebanon Planned for at least a Year
The Bush Administration's Grand Strategy and the Birth
Pangs of Terror

By Juan Cole

07/23/06 "Information Clearing House" -- -- Israeli
war planes hit the cities of Sidon, south Beirut and
Baalbak on Saturday and Israeli ground troops fought a
hard battle to take over the village of Maroun al-Ras,
said to be a Hizbullah rocket-launching site. The
Israeli bombing of Sidon hit a religious complex
linked to Hizbullah. The BBC reports that 'The UN's
Jan Egeland said half a million people needed
assistance - and the number was likely to increase.
One-third of the recent Lebanese casualties, he said,
appeared to be children. '

Matthew Kalman reveals that Israel's wideranging
assault on Lebanon has been planned in a general way
for years, and a specific plan has been in the works
for over a year. The "Three Week War" was shown to
Washington think tanks and officials last year on
powerpoint by a senior Israeli army officer:

"More than a year ago, a senior Israeli army officer
began giving PowerPoint presentations, on an
off-the-record basis, to U.S. and other diplomats,
journalists and think tanks, setting out the plan for
the current operation in revealing detail."
The Israelis tend to launch their wars of choice in
the summer, in part because they know that European
and American universities will be the primary nodes of
popular opposition, and the universities are out in
the summer. This war has nothing to do with captured
Israeli soldiers. It is a long-planned war to increase
Israel's ascendency over Hizbullah and its patrons.

But since Hizbullah's short-range katyushas can only
hit targets 3-4 miles away, and were mainly being
fired at the occupied Shebaa Farms, why worry about it
so much?

1. If Hizbullah forced Israel out of the Shebaa Farms,
it might increase pressure for it to give back the
Golan Heights, East Jerusalem, and all of the West
Bank-- the other territories stolen by Israel in 1967.
The Israelis have their own Domino Theory, which
haunts them the way the original haunted Lyndon
Johnson-- and just as foolishly.

2. Some of Hizbullah's missiles might have been able
to hit sensitive Israeli chemical or nuclear sites, or
just cause panic by hitting Israeli cities. There was
zero likelihood of Hezbollah launching such a strike
unprovoked. But this capacity formed at least a slight
drag on the Israeli ability to strike Iran and the
Palestinians with impunity. The destruction of the
Hizbullah arsenal may be the precursor of even more
drastic action against the Palestinians and perhaps a
bombing raid on Iran's nuclear research facilities
near Isfahan.

Israel is a regional superpower, the only nuclear
power in the Middle East proper, and possessing the
most technologically advanced military capability and
the most professional military. Since Egypt opted out
of the military struggle for economic reasons and
since the US invasion broke Iraq's legs, there is no
conventional military threat to Israel. Israel seeks
complete military superiority, for several reasons.
One impetus is defensive, on the theory that it has to
win every contest and can never afford to lose even
one, given its lack of strategic depth (it is a
geographically small country with a small population,
caught between the Mediterranean and potentially
hostile neighboring populations). But the defensive
reasons are only one dimension.

There are also offensive considerations. The Right in
Israel is determined to permanently subjugate the
Palestinians and forestall the emergence of a
Palestinian state. This course of action requires the
constant exercise of main force against the
Palestinians, who resist it, as well as threats
against Arab or Muslim neighbors who might be tempted
to help the Palestinians. Thus, Iraq and Iran both had
to be punished and weakened. Likewise, the Israeli
Right has never given up an expansionist ideology. For
instance, the Israelis have a big interest in the
Litani River in south Lebanon. If and when the Israeli
military and political elite felt they needed to add
territory by taking it from neighbors, they wished to
retain that capability.

The remaining challenges to complete Israeli military
superiority and freedom of movement are 1)
asymmetrical forces such as Hamas and Hizbullah
guerrilla cells wielding rockets and 2) the menace of
future unconventional challenges such as an Iranian
nuclear weapon (circa 2016 if in fact the Iranians are
working on it, which is not proved). Given the
alliance of Shiite Hizbullah with Shiite Iran, one
capability shielded the other.

That this war was pre-planned was obvious to me from
the moment it began. The Israeli military proceeded
methodically and systematically to destroy Lebanon's
infrastructure, and clearly had been casing targets
for some time. The vast majority of these targets were
unrelated to Hizbullah. But since the northern Sunni
port of Tripoli could theoretically be used by Syria
or Iran to offload replacement rockets that could be
transported by truck down south to Hizbullah, the
Israelis hit it. And then they hit some trucks to let
truck drivers know to stay home for a while.

That is why I was so shaken by George W. Bush's
overheard conversation with Tony Blair about the war.
He clearly thought that it broke out because Syria
used Hizbullah to create a provocation. The President
of the United States did not know that this war was a
long-planned Israeli war of choice.

Why is that scary? Because the Israeli planning had to
have been done in conjunction with Donald Rumsfeld at
the US Department of Defense. The US Department of
Defense is committed to rapidly re-arming Israel and
providing it precision laser-guided weaponry, and to
giving it time to substantially degrade Hizbullah's
missile capabilities. The two are partners in the war

For the Bush administration, Iran and Hizbullah are
not existential threats. They are proximate threats.
Iran is hostile to US corporate investment in the
oil-rich Gulf,, and so is a big obstacle to American
profit-making in the region. Rumsfeld is worried about
Iran's admission as an observer to the Shanghai
Cooperation Organization, which is to say, that he is
worried about a budding Chinese-Islamic axis that
might lock up petroleum reserves and block US
investments. If Chinese economic and military growth
make it the most significant potential challenger to
the Sole Superpower in the coming century, a Chinese
alliance with the oil-rich Muslim regions, including
Iran, would be even more formidable. The Shanghai
group has already pulled off one coup against
Rumsfeld, successfully convincing Uzbekistan to end US
basing rights in that country.

Rumsfeld also believes, contrary to all available
evidence, that Iran is actively destabilizing Iraq and
is conniving with Syria and Hezbollah to do so.
(In fact, the Iraqis had shaped charges in their
depots and did not need to learn about them from Iran
or Hizbollah). At some points, the Pentagon has even
tried to blame Iran for the radical Sunni Arab
violence in Iraq, which makes no sense at all (and
thus that propaganda campaign has been put on the back

Rumsfeld is so eager to stop what he believes is an
Iranian nuclear weapons program that he reportedly has
considered using tactical nuclear weapons against it
preemptively. After all, a nuclear-armed Iran would
forestall American gunboat diplomacy in the oil-rich

Iran also supports Syria, and Rumsfeld believes that
Syria is helping destabilize Iraq, and is also a
patron for Hizbullah.

Clearly, if one could get rid of Iran and Hezbollah,
in Rumsfeld World, Iraq is much more likely to turn
out a delayed success than an absolute disaster. And
then the stalled-out rush to Bush's vision of
"democracy" (i.e. Big Private Property) in the region
could proceed. In fact, the instability in Iraq mainly
comes from Sunni Arab guerrillas, who hate Iran and it
is mutual.

The Bush administration's perceived economic and
geopolitical interests thus overlap strongly with
Israel's perceived security interests, with both
benefitting from an Israeli destruction of Hizbullah.
It is not impossible that the US Pentagon urged the
Israelis on in this endeavor. They certainly knew
about and approved of the plan.

What is scary is that Cheney and Rumsfeld don't appear
to have let W. in on the whole thing. They told him
that Bashar al-Asad of Syria stirred up a little
trouble because he was afraid that Iraq the Model and
the Lebanese Cedar Revolution might be such huge
successes that they would topple him by example (just
as, after Poland and the Czech Velvet Revolution,
other Eastern European strongmen fell). (Don't fall
down laughing at the idea of Iraq and Lebanon as
Republican Party success stories; people in
Washington, DC, coccoon a lot and have odd ideas about
the way the world is.) So, Bush thought, if that is
all that is going on, then someone just needs to call
al-Asad and reassure him that we're not going to take
him out, and get him to rein in Hizbullah. And then
the war would suddenly stop. No one told Bush that
this war was actually an Israeli war of choice and
that al-Asad had nothing to do with it, that, indeed,
it could only happen because al-Asad is already

That is why Administration hopes of using the Israeli
attempt to destroy Hezbollah as a wedge to convince
Syria to give up rejectionism and detach itself from
Iran are crazy.

Syria is not going to give up its stance toward Israel
unless it at the very least gets back the occupied
Golan Heights. That is non-negotiable for Damascus.
Since the Israeli Right is diehard opposed to making
that deal, Israel will go on occupying part of Syrian
soil. Syria cannot accept that outcome. Likewise, the
Alawi regime in Syria faces a powerful challenge from
the Sunni Muslim Brotherhood. The high Baath officials
would be afraid that if they made peace with Israel
and got nothing out of it for Syria, there would be a
mass popular Islamist uprising. A separate peace that
leaves the Palestinians to the Israelis' tender
mercies would also stick in the craw of the Syrian
public. The administration plan will fail.

Because of their fetish for states, the
Neoconservatives of the Bush administration are unable
to see that the Levant and points east are now the
province of militia-parties that dominate localities
and wield asymmetrical paramilitary force in such a
way as to stymie states, whether local host states,
local adversaries, or imperial Powers. Hizbullah in
Lebanon, Hamas and other groups in Gaza and the West
Bank, al-Qaeda/ radical Bedouins in the Sinai, the
Muslim Brotherhood in some Sunni areas of Syria, the
tribes and gangs of Maan in Jordan, the Peshmerga of
the Kurds, the guerrilla groups of the Sunni Arabs in
Iraq, the Mahdi Army, Badr Corps and Marsh Arabs of
the Iraqi Shiites, the Basij and Iranian Revolutionary
Guards in Iran, the party-tribes of
Afghanistan--whether the Tajik Jami'at-i Islami or the
Pushtun Taliban--and the biradaris and ethnic mafias
of Pakistan, are all arguably as significant actors as
states, and often more significant.

By its assault on Middle Eastern states, whether it
takes the form of military confrontation or of
"pressure" to "democratize, Neoconservatism in
Washington and Tel Aviv has increased the power and
saliency of militia rule throughout the region. The
transition under American auspices of Iraq from a
strong if odious central state to equally odious
militia rule and chaotic violence is only the most
obvious example of this process. More people have been
killed in terror attacks in Iraq every month since
February than were killed on September 11, 2001 in the
US, and since Iraq is 11 times less populous than the
US, the 6,000 killed in May and June are equivalent to
66,000 killed in civil war violence in the US. Condi
Rice echoes the old Neocon theory of "creative chaos"
when she confuses the Lebanon war with "the birth
pangs" of a "new" Middle East. The chief outcome of
the "war on terror" has been the proliferation of
asymmetrical challengers. Israel's assault on the very
fabric of the Lebanese state seems likely to weaken or
collapse it and further that proliferation. Since
asymmetrical challengers often turn to terrorism as a
tactic, the "war on terror" has been, at the level of
political society below that of high politics and the
state, the most efficient engine for the production of
terrorism in history.

Juan Cole is President of the Global Americana
Institute - Visit his blog www.juancole.com
In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this
material is distributed without profit to those who
have expressed a prior interest in receiving the
included information for research and educational
purposes. Information Clearing House has no
affiliation whatsoever with the originator of this
article nor is Information ClearingHouse endorsed or
sponsored by the originator.)

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