Sunday, July 30, 2006

More on the same

I was talking today with a former U.S. diplomat and a Washington "insider" who made the following comment: "I'm beginning to suspect that the Israeli military has been 'Americanized.' They seem to repeating our mistakes in Iraq. Very discouraging for them and for us." This is coming from someone who is a critic of the Bush administration's policies and has been opposed to the Israeli response in Lebanon. My guess is that the Bushies and the neocons are hysterical. After all, much of what the neocons have been pushing for has been the "Israelization" of Americnan foreign policy and national security, in a sense that the Americans should adopt the tough Israeli methods in dealing with global threats, especially vis-a-vis the Arabs who supposedly "only understand force." The problem is that both in Iraq and Lebanon (now and earlier) and in the West Bank/Gaza this approach has proved to be a total failure in terms of policy (forget for a moment about moral dilemmas). There is going to be a major debate in Israel, the U.S. and elsewhere about what Lebanon means as far as Israeli military is concerned. Some would argue that it reflects the problems in responding to threats from non-state actors. Others would suggest that there has been a serious erosion in Israeli fighting capability and too much reliance on airpower and technology. Or perhaps it all has to do with the fact that the Arabs are getting better on the battle-field. Whatever the conclusions, unless the Israeli military will "surprise" everyone in the coming days, it seems to me the sense in the Middle East is going to be that Hizbollah won and Israel lost. Indeed, as I suggested in an earlier post, it's all looking more and more not like 1967 (the historical analogy being that Nasrallah will end up as a loser like Nasser) and more like 1973 when although the Sadat and the Egyptians were defeated in military terms, the perception was that they triumphed over Israel. This is the result of the "game of expectations," when one side does better than expected.


Anonymous said...

Israel has very strong support re public opinion, but they are having a tough time crafting a sensible narrative for opinion makers. They err in trying to argue certain points instead of just saying they are doing what it takes to win.

Hezbollah seems to be pretty tough - But it still seems like Olmert can say he won because it's doubtful that he had in mind the impossible idea of eradicating or eliminating Hezbollah (though some of the toughest, roughest, and bravest neocons have suggested that as a goal). Rather, he had to show the neighborhood that he was ready to rock and roll - Not saying that was wise, but that may have been his motive. Also, by elevating Nasrallah, he gave Nasrallah legitmacy, thus radicalizing Arab politics - which will come in handy when Olemert wants to tell Europe or Uncle Sam that he has no real negotiating partner.

Once again Leon - good show at Cato!

Anonymous said...

Condi sounded unwise when she compared the middle east's diahrea of violence to the miracle of birth. But she seems to have been moved lately about the plight of innocents in Lebanon. There is only so much she can say, because Olmert and Co and can point out that Lebanon still trails Iraq in the number of innocent casualties.

But Olmert & Co. cannot really argue that point on American TV because Bush's base will not appreciate any such comparisons - In a similar way, many liberal supporters of Israel do not really like to hear arguments on behalf of Israel that compares her war against radical Muslims to Andrew Jackson's war against American Indians.

Olmert probably does not mind the bad PR, but it makes many in America very defensive and irrational.

Oddly - as soon as Gilad Shalit's innocent picture appeared on American TV, - there was a sense that something was about to happen.

Leon - the big question- What does Bush have planned for AFTER Labor Day? Yikes!

Anonymous said...

As a domestic aside:

Certainly, Joe Lieberman's campaign cannot be gaining strength from the heart-wrenching media showing how innocent, dead children are sacrificed for the elimination of a rocket launcher.

Despite the Clinton bolster, these events in Lebanon may have washed away any gain in the polls for Lieberman.

Next Saturday promises to be a big day at the synagogue.

HWS - Gainesville. Fl

Global Paradigms said...

Thanks to all my anonymous correspondets. I think that this goes beyond pr -- most Americans and Congress sympathize with Israel when it fights those guys from Hizbollah -- and raises questions about what's happening in the real world in terms of Israel's political and military strategy. I think that Bush and the neocons and Liberman were/are hoping that linking Iraq to Lebanon will help them politically at home. They are basically arguing: what we're doing in Iraq is not different than what the Israelis are doing in Lebanon; and since you support the Israelis in Lebanon you should support us in Iraq. My guess is that Liberman will be making that argument.

Anonymous said...

We're all the same anonymous - but there was a different anonymous on another post.

I am supporter of Israel - Yes, I support Israel over Hezbollah, but it's really weird in the American political context that means I;m supposed to support this harsh invasion.

I support America - but I certainly thought invading Iraq was stupid for the US and Israel.

Hey - I want what is best for everyone - It's pretty funny that nowadays that is not taken for granted.

Anonymous said...

Who is the toughest of all the neocons?

Anonymous said...

Bush and company are politically clever to tie Lebanon to Iraq, but it could backfire.

Liberal and modererates who supporter of Israel will resent the implication - Even if they privately oppose the attack on Lebanon, the fact that Lebanon and Hezbollah is on their border makes it far more justifiable than Iraq, which required flying around the world to attack a country who did not attack the US.

But conservative Bush supporters may also resent the fact that some are supporting Israel's action but not Bush's action -

There's tremendous potential for all sorts of political mischief.

The best arguments Israel can make to an American audience are just not popular arguments with liberal supporters of Israel - they do not like when Israel is defended in a way that resonates with Bush's red state base.

But at this point - Israel is just so much more powerful than its advesaries.

Anonymous said...

NB- The third anonymous commenter was different than the first two and the follow up comment- Sorry about the confusion.