Saturday, August 12, 2006

We Think The Price Is Worth It

I got a asked today why America was so hated. I get asked this with monotonous regularity so I suppose it's time to reply again.

This is why they hate you.

11 YO Muhamed Sameer Moussa was wounded in an Israeli air strike his legs had to be amputated This is Muhamed Sameer Moussa. He's 11 years old. He was wounded by an Israeli air strike on al-Daheera and his injuries were such that his legs have had to be amputated. The hospital where he's being treated is in Tyre. Muhamed's prospects are bleak, he has to make through the next few weeks and for that he needs the best possible medical care. There's nothing wrong with the standard of medical expertise in Lebanon - they match up to anywhere in the world you care to mention. Moreover Lebanese doctors have a lot of experience of treating seriously wounded children. But for Muhamed to survive he needs modern medical technology that technology is dependent upon electricity which has to be generated using petroleum products. The Israelis have bombed the storage tanks and are blockading Lebanon. Not content with mutilating the child and devastating his country the Israeli government and its armed forces are doing their very best to make sure he doesn't survive. They're doing so with American foreknowledge, American consent, and using American supplied weaponry. Muhamed's injuries and his likely death can be laid directly at America's feet. Muhamed and hundreds of thousands of children in the Middle East are the victims of a country that thinks it has the right to condemn children to death for its own ends:

Leslie Stahl: "We have heard that a half million children have died (as a result of sanctions against Iraq). I mean, that is more children than died in Hiroshima. And, you know, is the price worth it?"

Madeleine Albright: "I think this is a very hard choice, but the price, we think the price is worth it."

- U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright in the Clinton Administration in CBS "Sixty Minutes" interview with Leslie Stahl, 12 May 1996

Images like this and worse are seen daily throughout the Muslim world. They're not seen in the west because news providers have bowed to political pressure and to pressure from advertisers not to "upset" people with "tasteless" images. America and Israel make clear by their actions that Muslim children in general and Arab children in particular are disposable not really people. That is why they hate you, you threaten their children. Every American and Israeli atrocity deepens and prolongs that hatred. The "price" is not "worth it" and neither America nor any other county has ever had the right to make others pay it. It's as simple, as obvious, and as human, as that.

markfromireland

Carrying His Daughter Home

Young child injured in bombing being carried home by her father after hospital treatmentThis child was wounded in a bomb explosion today Saturday August 12th 2006 when a bomb targeting a police patrol in Central Baghdad exploded. She was one of three civilians wounded none of the police were hurt. The man carrying her is her father - he's bringing her home from hospital. A separate explosion, targeting a police patrol near to a mosque Adhamiyah wounded five police and destroyed several shops. While the repeatedly "pacified" Haifa Street was the scene of mortar attacks.

markfromireland

Friday, August 11, 2006

New Definitions Of Victory

Gen Nehushtan said: "We have to recognise that we will be dealing with new definitions of victory. There will be no white flags being raised on this battlefield," he said.

I've got your new definition right here General:

defeat
Function: noun
1 : frustration by nullification or by prevention of success <the bill suffered defeat in the Senate>
2 obsolete : DESTRUCTION
3 a : an overthrow especially of an army in battle b : the loss of a contest

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Today's Bombing in An-Najaf

A cold shiver runs down my spine whenever I hear of a bombing in either an-Najaf or Karbala. Both cities are considered to be amongst the holiest places on earth by the Shia. Najaf is dedicated to Imam Ali Ibn Abi Talib and is where his grave is located. It's difficult to understate the scale of violence that would occur were it to be damaged.

Najaf

More information on Najaf's significance can be found in these two postings:'The Significance of the Car bombing in Najaf' and 'Family Outing' - mfiTomb of Imam AliNajaf's significance comes from it being the site of Ali- ibn Abi- Ta-lib's tomb. The Shia consider him to be the first lawful ima-m and the first righteous caliph. The city is a tremendously important pilgrimage centre - only Mecca and Medina receive more pilgrims. While the overwhelming majority of these pilgrims are Shia it is important to note that the Sunni revere Imam Ali as the last of the rashidun ("rightly guided caliphs") and that both Najaf and Karbala receive Sunni pilgrims.Najaf is renowned as a centre for scientific, literary and theological studies throughout the Islamic world (mainly but not exclusively for the Shia) and is one of the centres of study of the Shia fiqh "school of faith." As such it has a large number of hospices, schools, libraries, colleges, and seminaries. Saddam Hussein had a policy of deliberately denigrating Najaf and many of these institutions were badly damaged as an act of policy by his regime. The most notorious example being driving a highway right through the middle of the Wa-di-'u s-Sala-m. From a political point of view Najaf's significance can't be overstated, Ayatollah Ali- al-Hussayni- as-Si-sta-ni- studied in Najaf and is based there.

Composite graphic showing dead and wounded childrenThere can be no doubt whatsoever that this latest bombing is not so much terrorism as something even worse. This bombing like the Samara bombing, previous attacks on Najaf, the Kufa bombing, can only be described as being inspired by nihilism. It's a deliberate and calculated attempt to drag not only Iraq but the surrounding countries into all out sectarian war. Initial reporting is fairly restrained but there can be no doubt that the bombing will cause massive outrage particularly as scenes such as those seen to the left showing injured children and babies being treated for wounds, and distraught parents mourning their dead and mutilated children are being widely broadcast on TV throughout the entire region. It remains to be seen whether the Grand Ayatollahs already deeply concerned that their ability to restrain their followers is slipping will succeed in holding them back one more time. Should they fail the bloodbath created by the American occupation's policies in Iraq will pale into insignificance.

markfromireland

Free The Slaves

I got a comment today on this posting from Jacob Patten of "Free the Slaves" they're organising a campaign to stop US Tax dollars going to firms that use slave labour including in Iraq. Here's one of their resources:


"Secretary Rumsfeld, my tax dollars should not fund human trafficking in Iraq.

While our troops risk their lives for Operation Iraqi Freedom, some private businesses, under contract to the Defense Department, are engaged in human trafficking. "

You can send an email to Rumsfeld using the text above from warslavery.org's site here.

I would ask my American readers in particular to please take a minute to do so. I'll do a lenghtier posting on this sorely neglected topic at the weekend.

markfromireland


UK Troops "Overstretched"

Troops said overstretched in IraqThu Aug 10, 2006 12:12 AM BST

LONDON (Reuters) - British troops in Iraq are overstretched, ill-equipped and underpaid, and the strain of fighting two big wars at once threatens its military effectiveness, a parliamentary committee said on Thursday.

In a strongly-worded report on the Iraq mission, the cross-party Defence Committee accused the government of failing to act quickly enough to provide better armoured vehicles or enough helicopters.

It said troops were being rotated into Iraq and Afghanistan without their normal rest.

"We believe these concerns give rise to a fundamental question: are our Armed Forces structured, trained and equipped to fulfil the roles envisaged for them?" the report said.

Defence Secretary Des Browne responded that the military was "stretched, but not over-stretched".

Browne announced plans last month to buy more armoured vehicles for Iraq and Afghanistan, where more British troops have been killed as guerrillas have deployed deadlier roadside bombs.

Britain has lost 115 troops in Iraq since the U.S.-led invasion in March 2003 and 10 British soldiers have been killed in Afghanistan in the last two months.

The report said "Snatch" armoured Land Rovers used in Iraq were not safe enough and it was "unsatisfactory that the lack of capability was not addressed with greater urgency much earlier".

As for aircraft, it said: "We are deeply concerned at the shortage of helicopters in the theatre and believe that unless measures are taken to increase the number of helicopters and reduce pressure on crews, the effectiveness and coherence of UK operations on the ground will suffer."

The military has exceeded its normal guidelines for deployment since 2003, when 45,000 British troops joined the United States for the invasion of Iraq, in the biggest British deployment since the Korean War half a century ago.

Between 7,000 and 8,000 British troops have remained in Iraq since then. This year, Britain also added a big new mission in Afghanistan although hopes were not realised that its commitment in Iraq would taper off first.

Commanders say they can take the strain for now. But the report said those assessments might not be candid.

"The Ministry of Defence's confidence that the UK Armed Forces are not overstretched contrasts with what we are hearing on the ground," the parliamentarians said.

"We are concerned that the 'can-do' attitude of which our services are rightly proud may be leading service commanders to underplay the pressure on service personnel and their families."

And it said that troops in Iraq should be better paid.

"It is not unreasonable that our servicemen and women should expect some financial recognition for active service overseas. We intend to pursue this issue further."

Source

IRAQ: HIV-positive couple murdered


BAGHDAD, 9 Aug 2006 (IRIN/PLUSNEWS) - First came the phone call - a man who accused Farid Abbas of carrying “an indecent disease” and telling him that he’d be killed “for the safety of the country”.

Two days later, 42-year-old Abbas, who had been HIV-positive for nine years, was gunned down on the street.

“Witnesses said that while the man was shooting him from the window of a car, he was shouting loudly, ‘Death to all people who carry diseases acquired from indecent methods against Islamic beliefs’,” said Abbas’s sister, who asked that her name not be used, for security reasons.

That was not the end of the tragedy. On 30 July, Abbas’s wife Hania Omar, 38, who also was HIV-positive, was leaving home to pick up their 11-year-old son from school when another drive-by assailant shot her dead.

The man dropped a letter which said, “This is the price to pay for a Muslim woman who is willing to sleep with a dirty man whose blood is infected with the devil’s impurity.” The police shrugged off the deaths as “sectarian violence”.

Abbas and his wife were both hemophiliacs, and were infected with HIV from contaminated blood in the late 1980s.

In the conservative, religious environment of Iraq, the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and the disease it causes, AIDS, are associated with homosexuality, sex outside of marriage, and drug use – all considered religious offences.

Little awareness

There is little awareness of the fact that the virus can be contracted via contaminated blood transfusions.

Attitudes toward HIV and AIDS are also holdovers from the rule of Saddam Hussein. At that time, people who were discovered to be HIV-positive were virtually imprisoned in a special hospital, along with immediate relatives.

The HIV status of Abbas and his wife was discovered during routine exams, and they were held in the hospital for nearly nine years, Abbas’s sister said. They did, however, receive treatment during that time.

His relatives acted as though he and his wife were dead all that time, the sister said. They didn’t want to know how they were doing, did not even want to hear their names. The sister had been the only one of seven siblings who would even speak to Farid.

The sister helped the couple and their son find a place to live, next door to her, when they finally got out of the hospital at the start of the US-led occupation of Iraq in 2003.

Discrimination spreading

The couple was not the first in Iraq to be murdered because of their HIV status. In January and February, two other men were killed under similar circumstances, according to the press office of the Iraqi Aid Association for Chronic Patients (IAACP), a local nongovernmental organisation.

The IAACP has also seen an increase in general discrimination toward people who are HIV-positive.

“Deplorably, Iraqis have very low public awareness concerning HIV infection,” Youssera Ibrahim, spokesperson for the IAACP, said. “They still believe the last regime’s ideology that such carriers are dogs with rabies and should be excluded from the society.”

Dr Karim al-Mufergi, director of the Iraqi Organisation for Sexual Health and Sexually Transmitted Diseases (IOSH & STD), a local organisation in the capital, said that they have been trying to educate the public about the importance of using preventative measures such as condoms, and to raise awareness that HIV is not spread by a kiss or a hug.

“There are still people who believe that just by being near the patient, they can acquire the disease and become infected,” al-Mufergi said.

Social outcast

Abu Nour, 40, who has AIDS, was attacked by neighbourhood children throwing rocks a few weeks ago. Although he was bleeding profusely from head and arm wounds, no one would help him.

One of his neighbours saw the medicines for AIDS in his house and told all the neighbours.

“Since then, most of the people do not even say good morning to me,” Abu Nour said. “Last week I received a note in my door asking me to leave my house, to prevent me from infecting their children.”

Abu Nour said he contracted HIV from a sex worker, and infected his wife, who died several years ago. Their son, too, died of AIDS. He has tried to educate his neighbours about how HIV is transmitted, but to no avail. “Each day I’m being pressed to leave the only place I have to live,” he said.

Dr Wadah Hamed, director of the AIDS Research Centre (ARC), said about 100 Iraqi patients are receiving treatment at the centre, but there are no reliable statistics about the prevalence of AIDS or HIV.

“Most of our patients have complained of discrimination starting from their relatives,” Hamed said. “There are cases in which their own sons have rejected them after learning that they were infected.”

Source: IRIN

markfromireland

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Two Birth Pangs

Baby killed rocket attack Baquba being placed into coffin
The baby shown being placed into a coffin was killed today in a rocket attack in Baqouba. This "birth pang" of the "New Middle East" has been brought to you by the American Government.

20 month old child killed israeli warplane
Mohammed Dahaineh was 20 months old when he was killed by an Israeli war plane. This "birth pang" of the "New Middle East" has been brought to you by the American Government.

markfromireland


Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Fashion Statement

I've been asked by a reader about the Lebanese army. So I'm going to talk about the Hizb :-).

The first point to note is that we haven't seen any major ground offensive by the Israelis as yet. Please bear that caveat in mind. From what we have seen thus far I think we have to say that Israel assumed that they were dealing with a slightly more efficient version of Hamas or Islamic Jihad. They're paying the price for that assumption now. It looks to me as though the Hizb have carefully studied how the Israelis fight and to a large extent emulated their tactics and doctrine (and come up with some effective countermeasures of their own.) Any escalation by the Israelis is going to hurt and in all probablility hurt so badly that we may have to start substituting "Olmert" for "Pyrrhus":

"The armies separated; and, it is said, Pyrrhus replied to one that gave him joy of his victory that one other such would utterly undo him. For he had lost a great part of the forces he brought with him, and almost all his particular friends and principal commanders; there were no others there to make recruits, and he found the confederates in Italy backward. On the other hand, as from a fountain continually flowing out of the city, the Roman camp was quickly and plentifully filled up with fresh men, not at all abating in courage for the loss they sustained, but even from their very anger gaining new force and resolution to go on with the war."

The Israelis are demanding that the Lebanese Army secure the border and that this was what they wanted all along. Whatever you say Ehud. They also want an outside force to help the Lebanese army give Ehud a security blanket secure the border area. Sadly they have yet to specify from which planet this force will arrive.

Me? I think the Lebanese army uniforms look really snazzy and that the Hizb will look great in them.

markfromireland

Best News I've Had All Day

Turkey cancels USD 500 million deal with aircraft industry

Turkey scraps deal with Israel Aircraft Industries to upgrade aircraft in protest at Lebanon offensive
Ariyeh Egozy

The war deals a severe blow to Israel Aircraft Industries: The Turkish government has canceled a deal to upgrade fighter jets worth USD 500 million because of the war in Lebanon.

The Israel Aircraft Industries fears that more deals could be canceled.

In 1997 Turkey signed an agreement with Israel for the upgrading of 54 Phantom aircraft at the cost of USD 1 billion.

The deal was concluded in 2003 and Turkey showed interest in upgrading another 50 Phantom jets for USD 500 million.

Turkey is weighing the purchase of new F-16 jets from the United States instead of upgrading its old fleet.

"They are old costumers, and the cancellation of the deal is a very bad sign," a senior military official said Monday.

The Israel Aircraft Industries refused to comment on the decision.

Turkey's interest in Israeli military products has long been considered as a "goldmine" in Israel.

"Turkey was conceived as a replacement for South Africa and Iran, who were big customers of Israeli weapons," he said.

Since the war in Lebanon opposition parties in Turkey have increased pressure on the government to cut military ties with Israel.

Source

markfromireland

Conflict of Interest

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert "bragged that Israel would destroy Hezbollah", a French diplomat said in Washington, "and if he can't do it that's his problem. I don't care what the secretary of state says, we're not going to do it for him."

[snip]

"We might as well face up to it. Sooner or later the United States is going to have to choose what is more important - its strategic alliance with Europe, or its friendship with Israel."

I was going to title this posting "How To Win Friends And Influence People" but that slot is already taken. The article "The loser in Lebanon: The Atlantic alliance" paints, from an Israeli and US POV a very alarming picture. Why the Americans and they Israelis don't undertand that to continually insult your allies while (much more importantly) continually stabbing them in the back is folly I don't know but they don't understand that.

The European interest is the survival of Europe. Faced with a choice between that American hegemony in the Middle East they'll pick European survival every time. Americans and their local satrap need to get used to the idea that continually stabbing your friends in the back while adding insult to injury by continually hectoring them is a great way to convert friends and allies into something entirely different.

markfromireland

Heating Up Nicely Thank You

US and Iraq have not Met Turkey's Expectations on PKK

Turkish government spokesman and Justice Minister Cemil Cicek has stated that the steps being taken by the United States and Iraqi authorities to deal with the presence in North Iraq of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) in northern Iraq have not met Turkey's expectations.

Government spokesman Mr. Cicek made his remarks on Monday evening at a press conference held after the meeting of the Turkish cabinet of ministers at the Prime Ministry buildings in Ankara.

"We are seeking a mechanism that will speed up efforts even further," Minister Cicek stated in relation to the presence of the PKK in northern Iraq.

Regarding the issue of the PKK in northern Iraq, Cicek stated that comprehensive talks had taken place with US officials and the Iraqi administration with who Turkey was in close contact.

He added that important steps had been taken but that these had not been sufficient to meet Turkey's expectations.

Cicek went on to say that time was needed to solve the problem of terrorism and that the Turkish security forces were continuing their efforts in this direction.

[snip]

In recent days, the US administration has indicated that it is to appoint a special envoy to coordinate the fight against the PKK terror organization in northern Iraq.

Source

If they're apppointing a special envoy expect a lot more violence and expect it sooner rather than later. I don't see any way out of this.

markfromireland

Monday, August 07, 2006

'In The Same Old Way'

Those Iraqis busy engaging in the majority of attacks in Iraq - attacks upon the American army of occupation and it's green zone government allies, continue to make life difficult. The most effective way of doing this is as I wrote in "Attacking the Tail" back in February:

"Attacks upon supply convoys which are incapable of defending themselves have now been going on for a long time, now however the incidence, already high, is increasing markedly. The use of such indefensible convoys is a direct result of Secetary Rumsfeld's "reform" of the US armed forces logistical wing.

I won't insult my readers' intelligence by explaining the signifcance, or what it means for the "withdraw to bases" plan."

There's a reason why professional soldiers have the following proverb, "Amateurs study strategy professionals study logistics." The reason is simple an unsupplied soldier is a dead or captured soldier. If you don't want to take my word for it go read what two militarily very experienced American commentators Joe Galloway, and Pat Lang have to say. Today there's this report from Xinhua* :

"Gunmen attack truck convoy in northern Iraq, killing two drivers

Unknown gunmen attacked a convoy of trucks near a northern Iraqi town on Sunday, setting ablaze two trucks and killing two Iraqi drivers, a local police source told Xinhua.

The armed men opened fire at the convoy carrying supplies for U. S. troops on the main road near Ishaqi, a small town about 110 km north of Baghdad, said the source of nearby Samarra City.

In March, the town witnessed the horrific images of 11 Iraqi civilians who were killed after being captured by U.S. soldiers in a raid.

But the U.S. military denied the responsibility after a military investigation, saying that U.S. forces were following rules of engagement. "

The convoy was carrying barbed wire by the way. You need rather a lot of barbed wire if you're a foreign soldier occupying a country illegally. You need it to help stop the enraged brown people who actually live there and are furious at what you've done their home, their family, and their neighbours, from making clear their displeasure by capturing or killing you. Attacks on convoys are escalating. They're escalating in intensity, scale, and sophistication, that's why the US is resorting more and more to air supply and people who actually know what they're talking about like Joe Galloway and Pat Lang have been sounding the alarm. Supplying by air is unsustainable and is a loser's strategy. You've lost leave. I'll finish with a quotation from a British military genius, the Duke of Wellington:

"They came on in the same old way, and we sent them back in the same old way"

I doubt if any of the fighters who've wrecked the American logistical effort in those parts of Iraq where having a good logistical tail is essential to survival have heard either version of Wellington's aphorism but I've no doubt whatsoever that they'd nod vigorously in agreement if you quoted it at them. Then they'd go back to attacking the tail "in the same old way."

markfromireland

How To Win Friends And Influence People (Part 4 !!!!)

Scren shot of google news showing a list of news items about Australia being frozen out of Iraq wheat marketThe Australian wheat saga continues to instruct, inform, and entertain. As I summarised it in part 3 of this saga:

"I've always liked the Australians, any nation that includes within its idiom the expression that somebody is "as welcome as a turd in a swimming pool" has a certain something going for it. but even by Australian standards this one just keeps on giving. We're now up to three exclamation marks and I confidently expect to hit exclamation mark number four before the month is out. The story so far:

  • Australian officials are trying to get Iraq back as a market for agricultural produce.
  • They're less than popular with the Iraqi Minister for Trade because of Australian embroilment in the oil-for-food and bribery scandals.
  • Iraq has already rejected one shipment of Australian wheat because it was contaminated.
  • Australian troops opened fire on the bodyguards of the Iraqi Minister for Trade, killing one bodyguard, two civilians, and wounding others
  • The Australian government has not only refused to apologise but said that the bodyguards opening fire was perfectly proper."

Part 3 of this saga gives further details and now, sure enough we're up to part four. The new improved enquiry has apparently sunk without a trace and the Australians are now well and truly shut out of the market. The screen shot accompanying this story is eloquent. But there's an interesting difference between the coverage then and the coverage now. If you follow the links in Part 3 you'll see that Australian journalists (rightly) considered the shooting and the Australian government's refusal to make nice would be big issue, in whether Australia would be permitted back into a major market that they'd been servicing for 58 years, this story for example. However if you read the coverage today of the fact that Australia has effectively shut itself out of the Iraqi market you won't see any mention of the episode as a factor. None, zero, zilch. But what the hell I hit my target of 4 exclamation marks and wasn't too far out in my prediction of when I'd hit the said target - so I'm happy. Too bad about those Australian farmers who can't sell their produce but hey they voted for 'em so they can live with the consequences. To paraphrase Rummy "You try to sell your stuff with the government you thought you'd like to have to the government they've really peed off." That's what Freedom™ is all about right? just ask George, his good friend in Canberra - Michael, and a lot of happy American farmers.

What's the strine for "Gotcha suckers?"

markfromireland

20060807


Australian Mercenary Severely Injured In Bombing

The Australian government has confirmed that an Australian mercenary was seriously injured and two Iraqi civilians killed in a bomb attack in Iraq on August 3rd.

"An Australian security contractor has been seriously injured in a bomb blast in Iraq.

The 34-year-old Queensland man was injured when a roadside bomb exploded early on August 3, about 45km northeast of Baghdad, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) said.

Two Iraqi citizens were killed in the same blast, a DFAT spokesman said."

Full Story with a few further details here

A small sidenote - the jargon is important when you're reading these stories. "Two Iraqi citizens &hellip" that word citizens is the giveaway. If the story uses words like "bystander" or "civilian" or "passers by" then the injured Iraqis were civilians. When they use the word "citizens" then they were armed and working for the same security mercenary outfit.

markfromireland

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Barbara Thou Shoulds't Be With Us At This Hour

Don't even think of posting a comment telling me how shocked you are. To absolutely nobody's surprise both the Lebanese and the Syrians have flat out rejected the current draft. I have no idea why anybody least of all the French thought it had even the remotest chance of being accepted.

I wonder who's going to "relieve" the IDF once they hit the Litani.

The deal offered by Lebanon was a generous negotiating position. The IDF command should have told Olmert to take the deal that was on offer and got out while they could save some face. It's been a hectic few days what with one thing and another and I feel I deserve a rest today. So I'm going curl up on the sofa and start re-reading for the umpteenth time Barbara Tuchman's wonderful book "The March of Folly: From Troy to Vietnam" she was one clued in woman. If you've never read her IMO it's one of her best books. But then my nature and my experiences as a peacekeeper have given me a dark view of humanity - particularly of politicians and even more particularly of politicians in uniform.

Barbara thou shoulds't be with us at this hour.

markfromireland


Donny's Doppleganger

What we still don't understand about Hizbollah

"Israel has finally conceded that air power alone will not defeat Hizbollah. Over the coming weeks, it will learn that ground power won't work either. The problem is not that the Israelis have insufficient military might, but that they misunderstand the nature of the enemy.

In terms of structure and hierarchy, it is less comparable with, say, a religious cult such as the Taliban than to the multi-dimensional American civil rights movement of the 1960s. What made its rise so rapid, and will make it impossible to defeat militarily, was not its international support but the fact that it evolved from a reorientation of pre-existing Lebanese social groups.Evidence of the broad nature of Hizbollah's resistance to Israeli occupation can be seen in the identity of its suicide attackers. Hizbollah conducted a broad campaign of suicide bombings against American, French and Israeli targets from 1982 to 1986. Altogether, these attacks, which included the infamous bombing of the marine barracks in Beirut in 1983, involved 41 suicide terrorists.

Researching my book, which covered all 462 suicide bombings around the globe, I had colleagues scour Lebanese sources to collect martyr videos, pictures and testimonials and biographies of the Hizbollah bombers. Of the 41, we identified the names, birth places and other personal data for 38. We were shocked to find that only eight were Islamic fundamentalists; 27 were from leftist political groups such as the Lebanese Communist Party and the Arab Socialist Union; three were Christians, including a female secondary school teacher with a college degree. All were born in Lebanon.

What these suicide attackers - and their heirs today - shared was not a religious or political ideology but simply a commitment to resisting a foreign occupation. Nearly two decades of Israeli military presence did not root out Hizbollah. The only thing that has proven to end suicide attacks, in Lebanon and elsewhere, is withdrawal by the occupying force.

[snip]

But Israel must take the initiative. Unless it calls off the offensive and accepts a genuine ceasefire, there are likely to be many, many dead Israelis in the coming weeks - and a much stronger Hizbollah."

"What we still don't understand about Hizbollah" - Robert Pape. All emphases added by me - mfi

I don't agree with all of the article which is after all written very much from the standpoint of someone who wants American dominance to continue. When I got to this sentence; "Syria's total control of its border with Lebanon," I rubbed my eyes in astonishment (reading it will doubtless cause hollow laughter in Damascus.) Syria's borders are porous. Look at a map. But Pape's general thrust is correct.

I am not even slightly surprised by the percentages involved. Amongst other things I used to do activity analysis when I was in Lebanon. Everybody, and I do mean everybody, involved knew that religiously motiviated suicide attacks were in the order of 20%. I think that Pape seriously understates the numbers of Christians involved. My recollection is that in the order of 50% of suicide attackers were from an ethnic Christian background. I presume he's not counting them as "Christian" because they were avowed atheists. In a country where your sectarian background largely defines your social identity (and did so to an even greater extent back then) this is a classification error, it doesn't invalidate his methodology or his conclusions. On to the second article:

"Israel underestimated Hezbollah:

LONDON (AFP)
Israel completely underestimated the size of Hezbollah's arsenal and has been seemingly wrongfooted by the Shiite militant group's strength and nature, an expert at a London-based think-thank has told AFP.

"The Israelis lack good intelligence. They have completely underestimated the size of the Hezbollah arsenal, the amount of weapons they've got stockpiled," Rosemary Hollis of the Chatham House foreign affairs institute said Saturday.

"It's the classic situation of a guerrilla (war). You can't win except by the most appalling devastation, which is a pyrrhic victory anyway."

Israel failed to identify how deep the militants bury themselves in southern Lebanon, and Prime Minister Ehud Olmert allowed himself to be convinced by the chief of staff -- who is from the air force -- that air power could achieve more that it can, the analyst believes.

The level of ground forces that would be required to "really smash this kind of enemy is probably something that not even a good proportion of the Israelis could tolerate," she added.

Israel is now scaling back its operations accordingly and is hoping to score some kind of success -- such as the killing of Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah or reducing the number of rockets fired at Israel -- before a ceasefire is inevitable.

"They would quite like a ceasefire, but they need a success in order to get it," Hollis said.

"You need to address the grievances that the supporters of Hezbollah have, more effectively than Hezbollah.

"Even if Hezbollah stands for the elimination of Israel, that is not a grievance of their supporters. The plight of the Palestinians, the occupation or the use of military force against Israel's neighbours, the seemingly double standards by which Israel is allowed to flout international law and others are not... You have to address all of those things."

Letting the fly boys take over your high command is dumb mistake number one. Not understanding your enemy is dumb mistake number two. Underestimating them is dumb mistake number three. Believing your own propaganda is spectacularly idiotic mistake number four. Any one of these by themselves is a great way to lose a war. Somebody tell Rummy his doppleganger lives in Israel.

markfromireland

Getting Inside Their Heads (Part 3)

Dr. Rice's Pangs

Israel and its American sponsor expended a lot of effort on Security Council Resolution 1559 of September 2004. This is somewhat ironic given that neither has ever paid the least attention to the UN save when it suited their agenda. To what extent from an Israeli point of view is the optimism surrounding SCR1559 realistic?

  • Both Israel and Syria have complied with the withdrawal called for by SCR1559.
  • Democratic elections have been held.
  • What remains is for the the: "disbanding and disarmament of all Lebanese and non-Lebanese militias, and government control of all Lebanese territory."

What both the Israeli and American government ignore is that the Lebanese government itself has repeatedly stated that there are no militias in Southern Lebanon. The Lebanese government has repeatedly stated that what SCR1559 refers to as "militias" are in fact resistance forces. The Lebanese government has stated it neither can nor will implement resolution 1559. Yes it is true that prior to Israel's attack upon Lebanon that Lebanon's Prime Minister Fouad Siniora would have liked to disband both the Hizbullah and AMAL's fighting organisations but there was never a realistic prospect of this even under the then extant internal Lebanese political conditions. Such American and Israeli hopes were therefore highly premature and unrealisable. Israel's unprovoked attacks upon the Lebanese army mean that they are now entirely unrealisable. It is also idle to hope that Siniora's 7 point plan will be implemented. Does anybody here expect either Siniora or his government to survive?

A Bigger Better UNIFIL?

What of Israeli hopes of an international intervention force to "relieve" the IDF after it has "campaigned to the Litani"?

The irony is palpable. Israel has repeatedly, deliberately, mounted operations against, and killed, UNIFIL troops. Following each such operation Israeli diplomats have unleashed a barrage of "regrets" for the "error" - statements not even meant to deceive. What are the facts?

UNIFIL was instituted following the defeat of Israel's forces in Operation Litanis and her withdrawal of her forces. Nobody, least of all anyone who ever served in UNIFIL has ever regarded it as "effective." At best it prevented matters from getting worse. The idea that it could ever have prevented Hizbullah from arming and entrenching is so ludicrous as to require no discussion. How on earth were lightly armed troops without a mandate to open fire even when fired upon to do this? How on earth were lightly armed troops without a mandate to open fire even when fired upon supposed to go against the clearly expressed wishes of one Lebanese government after another? Israel never regarded UNIFIL as anything other than the least of evils to be brushed aside at will. To call for it or a successor force to be given teeth now shows a breathtaking lack of intellectual preparedness on the part of the Israeli government. True Secretary-General Annan is convinced that a better arrangement must be sought as are most Western governments but at present irrespective of the breathless coverage of events in New York what outsiders think is a moot point. What is important is whether the Lebanese will overthrow Siniora and institute an emergency national unity government.There is no evidence that Jerusalem has ever either considered the possibility of such an event or systematically considered whether it's long term survival interests are helped or hindered by attacking UN troops. It is doubtful in the extreme that a new force:

  1. Would be capable of disarming Hizbullah activists (who are in any event part of the local population.)
  2. That it could control the Syrian border to prevent weaponry coming in.
  3. That it could control the Litani river to prevent weaponry coming in.
  4. That it could control any buffer zone in any meaningful way unless it was prepare to respond instantly with overwhelming lethal force to "accidental" attacks by the IDF and or by Lebanese fighters.

But UNIFIL (or its successor) is not the only evidence of a critical lack of strategic thought in Israel and America.

Shab'a

How Israel and its American protector have handled the complex Shab'a farms issue raises serious questions about the decay of long-term strategic thinking and planning in both countries. In both countries diplomatic and military officials have a tendency to dismiss the Shab'a farms issue as unimportant. After all they say dismissively "it's just a a small strip of land in dispute on the slopes of Hermon lacking any strategic significance." Tell that to the Syrians.

Any map drawn since the 1920s, prove that the Shab'a farms are Syrian territory. But it's a bit more complicated than that, anyone who knows even the smallest amount about their history knows that the Shab'a farms were under de facto if not de jure Lebanese administration. Israel seized them during the 1967 war and has refused to even consider leaving. The fact that Israel withdrew from Lebanese territory but not from Shab'a even though this refusal to withdraw was endorsed by the UN at American insistence has greatly strengthened Hizbullah's diplomatic hand and the political legitimacy of its military actions as follows:

  1. Hizbullah can truthfully say that Israel continues to be in occupation of Lebanese soil.
  2. The Lebanese government can truthfully say that Israel continues to be in occupation of Lebanese soil and that Hizbullah is legitimately resisting a foreign occupier.

Syria has handled the complexities of the Shab'a issue with considerable diplomatic and political skill, the same is true of neither Israel nor America. The Americans could have forced their Israeli client state to disgorge Shab'a but refused to do so for internal political reasons. The Americans blithely accepted the Israeli linkage of the Shab'a issue to the issue of the Golan heights which Israel point blank refuses to even consider giving up. This has had serious effects:

The Effect of The False Linkage of the Shab'a to the Golan

The wilful Israeli to defuse a relatively minor border issue, and America's supine acceptance of this refusal, has greatly complicated the diplomatic task facing both countries. By promoting Shaba's importance they have created a situation in which the Shab'a question is now a vital part of the peace equation. Moreover they have created a situation in which they will have to cut a deal sooner or later not only with Beirut but also with Damascus. They will have to deal with a Damascus that warned that Syrian withdrawal from Lebanon would lead to an Israeli attempt to destroy Lebanon and a government in Beirut that has been furnished with ample evidence that Damascus was speaking the truth.

What of the root cause? What of Palestine?

Hizbullah and Palestine

The Israeli complete refusal to even consider making honest progress towards the creating a Palestinian national state on the Palestinian "front" has not only not reduced Hizbullah's legitimacy it has fuelled it. There is little, if any, coordination between Hamas and Hizbullah. Though both have from an American/Israeli analytical perspective alarmingly much in common:

  1. Both emerged under the impact of Israeli occupation.
  2. Both are radical Islamic nationalist movements.
  3. Both are grassroots movements inextricably bound up with the communities from which they sprang.
  4. Both have succeeded in supplanting those with whom the Israelis thought they could "do business."
  5. Both engage in 4GW military activity.

These facts and Israel's failure to abandon an orientalist analytical model have weakened Israel's ability to recognise that resorting to purely military means serves only to strengthen both Hizbullah and Hamas.

The Failure of Orientalism

Hizbullah and Hamas are brought together in Orientalist discourse under the heading of "radical Islam." However many Israeli analysts make a convenient but false distinction between the Palestinian and Lebanese issues issues. The reasoning goes something like this:

"Of course we can't completely separate the two issues not least because Hizbullah emerged as a result of Israeli occupation and actively fought it but there's a huge difference between them. One is Sunni and one is Shia, ultimately they will never agree and will fight each other."

This is to engage in massive self-deception. What is the truth of the matter?

Hizbullah's ideology comes from a world view in which the Shi'a act as a historical vanguard against all oppression and injustice, including that engaged in by Israel and its sponsor the United States. Israeli repression of the Palestinians is very far from being a mere pretext it is a prime source of Hizbullah's motivation for action. Thus Hizbullah's demand that Israel release Palestinian prisoners if it wants the soldiers captured by Hizbullah to be released is a very accurate reflection of Hizbullah's ideological priorities. Orientalists tend to over-emphasise the theological-historical chasm between Sunni and Shii. Ultimately they are all Muslims as the appearance of Nasrallah posters not only in the Palestinian territories but throughout the Muslim world amply demonstrates. [As a side note the same failure is evident in American analysis of the wave of violence engulfing Iraq. The violence has a pronounced sectarian aspect true, but it stems from the different attitudes to how to handle the American occupier. God help any American in Iraq when the Ayatollahs tell their followers to conduct their own shrugging off of the hated foreign burden.]

Sheikh Nasrallah and the Hizbullah leadership do not have to emerge victorious. All they have to do is emerge undefeated from the current confrontation with America and her regional hegemon Israel and it's "invincible" soldiers. His stature and that of Hizbullah are growing rapidly beyond his own community. Each and every day that the US loyally delays reining in condemnation and action by the UN on behalf of its satrap increases his and Hizbullah's stature. No wonder the Israelis are determined to find and kill him. He has all the charisma of Abd al-Nasir coupled with his insouciance in the face of death and without al-Nasir's somewhat dubious military record. He may well become not only the national Lebanese leader but a model for the Palestinians. Furthermore if present trends continue he may well constitute final conclusive proof that in many respects membership of the Umma does indeed supercede nationalism in the new Middle East. This isn't to say that strong national loyalties will die - they won't. But nationalist concerns are increasingly being subsumed into a determined effort to once and for all deny the West permission to determine who it is who sets the Middle Eastern political, cultural, and military agendas.

Conclusions: If At First You Don't Succeed - Try Something Else

From an Israeli point of view two preliminary conclusions need to be drawn to ensure Israel's survival:

  1. Purely military solutions to Israel's very real dilemmas are rapidly becoming both obsolete and counter productive to the survival of the Jewish state.
  2. The days in which a bi- or even uni-polar analysis was useful are over. In the "old days" matters were relatively simple. Everything could be seen in the context of great powers managing their client states, and restraining them when necessary. Latter day reality is far more complex. The situation now consists of a number of regional players and, erratically within their orbit, small but very efficient and determined grass roots movements who possess a menacing array of "open source" and "low tech" weaponry particularly missiles.

    These groups must now be treated as though they were State actors - which indeed is what they were already well on their way to becoming.

    Some State actors who could hitherto be ignored can no longer sidelined because they possess medium-range missiles (with or without nuclear capabilities.)

The Failure of Militarism

Potentially the failure of militarism presents a huge opportunity for Israel to ensure its survival. Every time a purely military solution is tried it leads to a situation in which a new, more determined, and more capable enemy arises. Moreover it has led to a situation in which Israeli military capability has deteriorated shockingly. It's very easy to be tough driving a tank through occupied Gaza it's not so easy to engage in hand to hand fighting against a well-trained, determined, and entrenched foe. You're only the toughest kid on the block if all the other kids think you're the toughest guy on the block. If they think you're vulnerable they'll keep trying to hit you and sooner or later one them will successfully swing a camán across your kneecaps.

Israel has used military means time and time again to try to alter the political landscape in its favour. Every time there's an "incident" or a "crisis" it has given in to a chorus of voices on the right to far-right augmented by the urgings of its general staff. Not one of those attempts has been successful. The militarist tendency to talk of "constant war," "alliances in the war against terror," and that Israel "stands behind" America in its struggle with an imaginary "axis of evil" has been shown to be no more than rhetoric and a poor basis for negotiating Israel's security. The same is true of the doomsday talk so common on the extreme right since the September 11th attacks of a "third world war."

No Israeli war since 1967 has yielded unequivocal victory for any of the participants, and the present confrontation is no exception. Perhaps the greatest loss is that those against whom Israel unleashes its might can point to Israeli (and American) state terrorism and say truthfully enough that the IDF is behaving like a sectarian militia. The arrogance and contempt for their foe, and their reliance upon technology reminds me of the French in Vietnam. The French continually complained that they were fighting an inferior enemy. That if their enemy would only stand and fight that the technically superior French colonial forces would carry the day. The Viet Cong duly obliged - at a place called Dien Bien Phu.

Multi-Polarity Redivivans

The implosion of Western military and political power has created a complex series of interlocking power relationships in the Middle East through to South Asia. The Americans are starting to realise that they have bitten off more than they can chew and are, one assumes, less than pleased with their local satrapy for dragging them into a further imbroglio. The mere fact that the US had to go cap in hand to the UN and the despised "cheese eating surrender monkeys" indicates the extent of the implosion of conventional military power. The "cheese eating surrender monkeys" as one American commentator put it promptly went on strike and demanded an increase in the the Brie ration. A demand that was immediately met.

Nobody, least of all the Israelis themselves knows how to get a workable ceasefire and to extract Israel from its Tuchmanian folly. Nobody, least of all the Israelis themselves believes that a triumphant Hizbullah will agree to disarm. Hizbullah might be persuaded to become part of the Lebanese army, (in effect to take it over most of it,) but as we saw earlier they were well on their way to doing that anyway. If they assume command now then the US had best get its "trainers" and "advisers" out of Lebanon in a hurry.

The US and Israel militarist strategy has failed on an even deeper level. Both in Lebanon and in Palestine they deliberately created a situation in which their preferred political partner could not prevent the political and military rise of forces determined to resist subjugation without provoking all-out civil war. The blame for this situation rests fairly and squarely with America and Israel and with them alone. From 1996 on every aspect of Israeli policy was to harass and weaken the Palestinian Authority. The Palestinian populace initially were strongly in favour of the negotiation route Gaza has shown them that negotiating with a state ruthlessly determined upon your complete and total subjugation in a squalid, waterless, and impoverished bantustan is a losing strategy.

The same is true of Lebanon continued Israeli harassment of Lebanon particularly since the Syrian withdrawal thwarted every attempt to arrive at a settlement that would make the Lebanese government more autonomous. Israeli policy meant that Hizbullah has become a state within a state and that it sets the agenda. Is this a problem? Not for Lebanon. The Hizb have repeatedly shown that they understand that politics is the art of the possible and acted accordingly. They routinely engage in entirely normal "horse trading" with their political rivals not least the Phalange. In short it's not the Hizb who are the problem.

The problem is that Israel has been permitted to continue to hide behind the US' shield while it:

  1. Destroyed the Palestinian Authority.
  2. First boycotted and is now trying to eliminate Hamas.
  3. Snubbed Syria.
  4. Engaged in a series of murderous acts culminating in a premature invasion all the while declaring Platonic love for Lebanon.

The resulting crisis will need a lot of creative rethinking and will be far from easy. Not least because it will need changes in Israeli public opinion. Contrary to how they are portrayed in the West and in Israel the majority of Muslims do not want to "drive Israel into the sea" they recognise that any peace must come on Palestinian terms and that the Palestinians themselves do not want this. The Israelis are going to have start negotiating in good faith and to keep their agreements. They are going to have to abandon the idea that "Arabs only understand the mailed fist" they are going to have to make make a lot of concessions and to stop casting covetous eyes upon their neighbours water resources. The impetus for this can come only from their sponsor. The Israelis demanded a "clean break" - give it to them let them stand by their own efforts and by their own efforts alone or be prepared to watch haplessly as the entire region goes up in flames. The attempt to force a version of Western secular society upon a region whose very essence is religious has failed it is time to admit that fact. Religion, nationalism, ethnicity, and the ability to make sophisticated adjustments within the "art of the possible" are all here to stay. Only a cultural arrogance boosted by a temporary military superiority ever allowed Western colonialists and neo-colonialsts to believe that they ever went away.

If Israel is to survive it has to take a first vital step. The Israeli government must reverse the status quo by getting the Israeli armed forces firmly under civilian control.

markfromireland

Jommetry According To Dubya

  1. A squaw firin' a shitload a lot of cat's tushes rockets from behind a hippotamus hide scares the shit out of Ehud is equal to the sum of the two opposin' squaws. The shoe shopperCondi an' the sasquatch Karen'll freak if they hear me callin' 'em 'squaws.' Howd'ya fire a cat's tush anyways?
  2. Sunnis live in a triangle.
  3. Shia's live in a crescent.
  4. According to Poodle Boy Tony that Brit raghead muslin don't mean cloth, it means someone who lives in an arc of extremism which shows how much he knows 'cos it's an Ark an' there ain't gonna be no space left after me an' fatso the veep move in.
  5. That damn shoe shoppin' maniac is too square to put out.
  6. Yithzak, Bibi, Ahmed, Ariel and Ehud gave me the plans to build me my very own Pentagon of defeat. Defeat???!!!???Uh Oh. But Rummy promised we had the necessary force to deal with the situation.
  7. Hey waitress Rummy make yourself useful an' git me another drink. Don't bother puttin' in any cubes.

markfromireland