Wednesday, July 12, 2006

An Act of War, Declares Olmert

2 Prisoners Taken Hostage By Hezbollah, in Lebanon,
Several Murdered, Tank Destroyed.


I started a post last week calling into question the direction of the Gaza Incursion. It seemed to me, at the time, that it was in beginning to look chaotic and losing all direction. And the danger was that it would accomplish neither its primary goal, that of rescuing Gilad Shalit, nor its secondary one, which was getting the Qassam missiles to halt. As well as any other goal it had picked up along the way.

I never finished it though because I had a few qualms. I didn't want to be screaming "quagmire" - sounding like an annoying liberal - when that potentially was not going on at all from an inside view, a view I was not privy to. And I also felt a bit disloyal - since I certainly was for full steam ahead on the operation, going in. So I held off on finishing that particular post, hoping I was incorrect. Though I've certainly never had the faith in Olmert's government that I did in Sharon. Olmert seems a very ideologically confused politician, far more interested in the exercise of power for its own ends.

Clearly, I shouldn't have been so halfhearted about writing my post.

If the operation looked chaotic to me, I should have realized it would look far weaker to Israel's enemies. And that, indeed, proved to be correct, as now Hezbollah has kidnapped two soldiers from the northern border of Israel, with Lebanon, and has sent a barrage of katyushas and mortars into northern town.

I can't see that Israel has many options to get the soldiers back, except to bomb some site in Syria; as Sharon's government did, to much success, several years ago, "to send a message to Syria" to make Hezbollah back off. Syria is controlling these forces. And so, too, is Iran.

I think Olmert has already hinted at this tactic:
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert declared the attack as an "act of war" and not terror. During a press conference with Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi Wednesday afternoon, he called it an unprovoked assault by a sovereign nation and held Lebanon, where Hizbullah has a minister in the government, fully responsible.

"Israel's response will be restrained but very, very, very painful," Olmert added.
Restrained, but very, very painful sounds like something very, very targeted.

It is also, to my mind, not the least bit coincidental that this kidnapping happened only a day - or less - after Hosni Mubarak said in remarks published Tuesday that Israel had been ready to make a prisoner exchange - hoping to achieve what end, I wonder now. Obviously, "diplomacy."

But from a more cynical point of view, it looks like this leak was a flashing neon signpost to the terrorists that soldier-kidnapping is the way to go if they ever want to see their men.

Europe, right now, is "pro-Israeli," tut tutting and "expressing concern" and decrying Hezbollah's actions. But we all know that will last only until Israel begins a campaign targeted on Syria or the Hezbollah dominated parts of Lebanon to get the men back. Because Israel is always and in all things an exception to the rules. And soon enough these same leaders, and quite likely Condi Rice's State Department, will start indicating that the incursion is "disproportionate".

By the way, and this is just an aside, now that Condi has come way out of the closet with the same "realist" political philosophy as her old time political mentors, I'm finding I don't much like her approach at all. It's just the same old bullshit.

Lebanon Profile, writing from Lebanon, has an interesting response.
The Israelis overflew Syrian President Bashar Assad's palace in Latakia when Hamas killed two Israelis and kidnapped one. Now, Hezbollah kills Israeli soldiers and kidnaps them.

What will the Israelis do to Syria, now (not to mention Lebanon, the Palestinian camps in Lebanon and Syria, the West Bank, and Gaza)?

What are the Syrians and Hezbollah thinking? Goad Israel into an attack? Prove that there isn't much that Israel can do without going into all out offensive war? Get Israel back for Israeli overflights and the 2003 bombing of the Damascus Palestinian refugee camp?

They definitely aren't winning any support in Lebanon, the West, or the rest of the world...

And Hezbollah? This militia is just ridiculous. Westerners are scared out of their minds of being kidnapped by Muslims after all the headchopping that's gone on in Pakistan, Iraq, and Saudi Arabia. Even domestically, Americans are vigilantly anti-kidnapping. Nothing sets Midwesterners more on edge than an Amber Alert. You'll never get anyone to have sympathy for you by behaving like criminals.

The interesting part is that Syria is powerful enough to call Israel's bluff. Assad's realized that, not only is the West incapable of taking out the Syrian regime, but that Israel can't either. That truly changes things.

Syria's alliance with Iran is really paying off.
I would respond that the US is, of course, perfectly capable of taking out the Syrian regime, but it lacks the political will to do so. It might gain some of that political will if it realized the extent to which the Iraqi insurgency was still being funded and controlled by the Baathist party, based in Syria.

Israel, of course, may not now lack the same political will as US forces in Iraq to let off a few bombs in Syria. If Assad felt threatened - as he did - by being buzzed, lets see how he responds to something more vigorous, if that, indeed, is what Olmert has planned for him.

UPDATES to follow when I return...

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