Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Hysteria among neocons: Israel isn't tough enough

National Review Online and the Wall Street Journal editorial page are mad as hell at Israel for not playing the role they assigned to it in their script, which is exactly they way they reacted to the fiasco in Iraq. According to their script, America's proxy -- Israel was supposed to defeat Iran's proxy -- Hizbollah. Hence according to BRET STEPHENS in the WSJ:
It is amazing how much can be squandered in the space of three weeks. On July 12, Israel sat behind an internationally recognized frontier, where it enjoyed a preponderance of military force. It had deterrence and legitimacy. Hezbollah's cross-border raid that day was widely condemned within Lebanon and among Arab leaders as heedless and provocative. Mr. Olmert's decision to respond with massive force enjoyed left-to-right political support. He also had a green light from the Bush administration, which has reasons of its own to want Hezbollah defanged and which assumed the Israelis were up to the job.

But it seems they are not up to the job. The war began with a string of intelligence failures: Israel had lowered its alert level on the northern border prior to the raid; it did not know that Hezbollah possessed Chinese-made antiship missiles, one of which nearly sank an Israeli missile boat off the coast of Beirut; it was caught off guard by the fierce resistance it encountered in the two Lebanese villages it has so far attempted to capture. Such failures are surprising and discouraging, given that Israel has been tracking and fighting Hezbollah for nearly a quarter-century.

Harder to understand is a military and political strategy that mistakenly assumes that Israel can take its time against Hezbollah. It cannot. Israel does not supply itself with precision-guided bombs; it does not provide its own cover at the U.N. Security Council; it does not have 130,000 troops at risk in Iraq of an uprising by Moqtada al-Sadr's Mahdi Army. It should be immensely worrying to Israel's leaders that Iraq's Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani is calling for an immediate cease-fire. Ayatollah Sistani--unlike, say, Kofi Annan--is the sort of man who can get George W. Bush's ear. (read the rest)

And this interesting piece of info by Amir Oren in Haaretz:
In the middle of the week, a close personal friend of U.S. President George Bush, who is also a generous donor to the Republican Party, called an Israeli friend who is a senior officer in the Israel Defense Forces. "What's happening with you?" he asked, as angry as he was disappointed. "The best army in the region, one of the best armies in the world, is messing for two weeks with a terrorist organization three kilometers from the border, and the rockets keep falling on its population centers? We sent our army to bleed 6,000 miles from home after September 11. What's stopping you?"

Because this is the true surprise - a surprise of statesmen and not of intelligence - of the campaign in the north: no American red light, no flashing orange light, and not even a mere green light, but the blaring siren of the sheriff's car sitting behind the hesitant driver at the intersection urging him to get moving. The global cop is recruiting Israel as a regional cop, to impose Security Council Resolution 1559 on the government of Lebanon and dismantle the Hezbollah army. Sun, stand still at Givon. The Red Sea parts for the Israelites, as in Paramount Pictures, but this time there is no Moses around, maybe because Charlton Heston is sick.

Two forces of nature influenced all of Israel's wars: time and America. The two are really one. Time was always pressing. To move quickly to the offensive, to push far into the Arab territories before the world could figure out what was going on, because the moment they figured it out the Security Council would be convened and Israel would be halted and forced to give back the spoils. There was no lack of reasons for the desire to abbreviate the war - to spare lives, to free up the mobilized economy and to end the war with enough supplies in case hostilities resumed quickly - but the supreme imperative was to run as far as possible before the White House waved the black flag.

This time, though, it's convenient for Washington to have its Israeli protege whip the ward of the provocative power and even administer a thrashing. The difference, of course, lies in the identity of the adversary - Khomeinist Iran and not communist Russia. (read the rest)

So... since they can't accuse Bush and Condi of "appeasement" I suppose that like in the case of Rumsfeld and Iraq they'll demand the resignation of Olmert and Peretz (the defense minister).


Anonymous said...

Stephens grew up in Mexico. It's pretty funny how so many of the most hawkish grew up abroad. Nothing wrong with that - but it's just pretty funny because they are always appealing to 'the heartland' etc and you kind of get the impression they know less about the actual 'heartland' than they do about what's doing in London or Brussles. Nice work, if you can get it.

Global Paradigms said...

I didn't know that. I did know that he had served for several years as an editor with the Jerusalem Post and then got the job in the WSJ. Since then he has been basically doing Israeli/Mideast stuff. He also wrote a long critique of the "new" Fukuyama. What you describe could be applied to members of cosmpolitan elites in most of western capitals, including Washington. The Davos mentality. Leon

Anonymous said...

Napolean did not grow up in France, Hitler did not grow up in Germany, Stalin did not grow up in Russia, etc.

Not to compare any of the war hawks, etc to them, but so many of them grew up outside the US.

It's likely they got to knw the US military thru encyclopdeias and Jane's Defense. So they began to view it the way a Manchester United fan or a Real Madrid fan views their team.

But there is a disconnect that war opponents failed to exploit and work.

For example, a while back Max Boot (grew up in Russia) and Hitchens (grew up in England) wrote a series of ridiculously belicose columns about the what to do in Iraq and Afganistan.

Recently someone recalled his former colleagues who were stationed on ships in the Gulf and on land in Afganistan read them and passed them around. They thought they were a joke - they could not believe that these kind of ideas of assessments were taken seriuously by the people in DC.

They were all way over the top in their bloody celebrity tone.

But for people who were involved in the operations, they sounded just like fantasy football.

Again - Nothing wrong with growing up in Mexico - a great experiance. Nothing wrong with growing up in Canada either - it can lead to a job writing the State of the Union.

But it is pretty funny - It's just hard to imagine moving to a Canada or Mexico or Israel or the UK and getting away with being more nativists than the locals without everyone laughing at you.

Maybe Buchanan will move to Mother Russia and become Putin's speechwriter!!!

Wait! Don't give him any ideas!

Anonymous said...

Being part of the Davos Set sounds like a lot of fun.

Side trips to Aspen. Hushed converstations about repos, rates, and Barneke. Speculation about "doing Iraq," and confronting Iran. Maybe a weekend in the Cotswold or Provance.

What an awesome life. Can't blame them for enjoying it.

Another thing that is pretty funny - as funny as these born abroad war hawks who depend on rallying nativism - is the huge industry of people who write books about Iran and Iraq or the other Arab states without ever visting the region or learning the language.

I do not fault these authors. I am actually jealous of them. But the fact that people do not laugh in their face when they speak is a mystery.

Jim Henley said...

I've always maintained that the neocons could manage ZERO ardor for an Israel that lived in peace and security with its neighbors. It's Spartan Israel they love, the Israel of the long twilight struggle. I may have overestimated them. Based on the current talk I get the impression they might actively despise such an Israel. Oh how bitter we get when the object of our fantasies lets us down.

Global Paradigms said...

Btw, it's not uncommon for those who are insecure in their identities, and especially those who reside in an in-between cultural spehres of indetity to be more Catholic than the Pope, so to speak. The examples you mentioned are "classic" in that respect. Herzl, the founder of Zionism was an assimilated Austrian Jews and many light-skin blacks have been the most ardent black nationalist, etc. etc. The other side of the coin: Members of diaspora groups tend to be more nationalist than those whom they left behin. And JIM I totally agree with you on that. It's that and also I think that many Jewish neocons enjoy their status as "mediators" between Washington and Jerusalem. In any case, they are very brave when it comes to the War of Ideas.. Leon

globetrader said...

The point about insecurity and identity is an interesting one.

What strikes me about neocons is their warped sense of history (a characteristic they share with the Islamists). They seem to be self-styled Churchills desperately searching for their Hitlers and obsessed with whether they will be “on the right side of history” and “how history will judge them.”

Perhaps if one is insecure there is a desire to escape one’s insecurity by “rising above” others and aspiring to greatness. In this case, Churchill is their benchmark of greatness. Every Churchill needs a Hitler and an epic struggle.

Anonymous said...

Leon, black Americans are often shocked when they go to Africa and Africans see them as far more American than black.

In Ireland, the Irish now look at Irish Americans who support Bush as if they were retrograde. Irish American pols are so disappointed to see Ireland become prosperous and modern. It saddens them to see no hatred of English and an end to the religious wars.

Many Greeks are very disappointed when they go to Greece and see modern wealthy Greece not feeling threatned by Turks, etc

Of course - every group is a a bit different, but this is a universal phenom. With Israel, there were always those who idealized the socialist Kibbutz and then there were those who idealize the IDF.

Normalcy bores.

The Chrurchill cult is the cure.

Global Paradigms said...

Interesting comments. I suppose that people project their hopes and desires on friends, lovers, spouses, political leaders,etc. and tend to idealize/romanticize them and in many cases reject information that runs contrary to their preconceptions or try to adjust it ("If only Stalin knew..." Or as Jackie Mason puts it: This guy loves Bill Clinton. They tell him that Clinton murdered someone. He responds: "Well, eveyrone has to go one day..."). Recall how the fellow travelers in America fantasized about the Soviet Union in the 1930's. I suppose that there is some element of that in the way many American-Jews treat Israel today. Most of them don't plan to move there and many have not visited the country. It's like someone who "meets" someone online and builds all these expectations. On a certain level, he or she prefers not to meet with the online match in real life. Why ruin the fantasy?

Anonymous said...

The Soviet thing was a true mystery. It was understandable that people might delude themselves for a few years, but by the 30s, the terror was already apparent. But then their minds could adjust because there was a competing terror. It was just madness.

I don't think it's the same with modern countries - Except that it comes down to choice.

One day peace will break out and Israel will get along with Iran and others. Some might miss the old days then.

What's gonna happen when Israel is at peace and their economy is booming and the bedouin have casinos? Will they be like the French?

Speaking of Clinton. I think he pushed those deals at the wrong time and in the wrong way. He is a smart enough man to know that they would not stick. He just wanted to be seen as trying to make peace.

They were not mid-east peace agreements. They were Clinton Lgeacy Image Projects

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