Sunday, July 30, 2006

Israel, Lebanon, and the Rest

Israel's operational strategy is baffling to me and quite disappointing. This is shaping up as Al Gore vs. George Bush in their 1st 2000 debate, where the favorite was supposed to have wiped the floor with the underdog yet merely by surviving, the underdog wins (no disrespect intended to George Bush or Al Gore). The fact that Israel is not winning handily yet claims to be only using "5% of its power" indicates diffidence and indecisiveness that may well turn out to be fatal.
Aerial bombardment serves battlefield preparation and political objectives - it is not an end in itself. The US took 4 weeks to bomb Iraq in 1991; one would think 2 weeks for Israel to accomplish the similar aerial outcomes in 2006 in a much smaller theater. From the way Israel is acting, it would seem that it is hoping for an outcome like the capitulation of Belgrade at the hands of American airpower; but such an outcome, rare to begin with, is fantasy when it comes to Hezbullah fanatics. I realize an invasion of Lebanon would bring back bad memories (much as a US peacekeeping force in Lebanon does for Americans), but that seems more and more necessary. What bothers me in this whole thing is where is Israel's Ariel Sharon in 2006; not the fallen prime minister, but the bold and daring commander who brought the PLO to its knees in 1982 and the Egyptian Third Army to its knees in 1973. Israel has behaved as if it could change a war of attrition it was destined to lose into a favorable war of attrition using airpower; but Israel's strengths are not attrition from the air- they are speed, maneuverability, and panache. Cutting the Bekaa Valley off from the Syrian border with a mechanized strike force and South Lebanon off from the north with an amphibious landing would be 2 ways of changing the discouraging dynamics of the current situation.

Israel's PR management has also been atrocious. Rumsfeld's ingenious embedment of the press in 2003 spared a lot of bad press; something similar might be a good idea for the Israelis. The message sent by aerial bombardment is beating of the whole population into submission, whether or not that is the intent. I wonder if the focus was more on retrieval of the 2 soldiers and assassination of Nasrallah, that would have been more effective by humiliating Hezbullah more.

And of course, there is the issue of fighting to win. Right now, it does not seem the Israelis are doing that. It seems they are fighting to get an international force in. When a problem seems insoluble, sometimes it works to expand the problem. Blowing up Hezbullah headquarters and some Syrian military targets might not be such a bad idea. What's the worst thing that can happen? Iran gets involved? Might as well bring into the open what is already clandestine. From this friend of Israel's perspective, it seems that what cannot be endured must be ended - showing a little flamboyance in warmaking might restore Israeli deterrence and end this crisis faster and better than the current grind.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

My Plan for World Peace

The following is said half-in-jest and more than a little tongue-in-cheek. I think I have a solution that will solve half the world's problems and everyone will be better off:

1) All Israelis move to America
2) All illegal immigrants in America move to Europe
3) All Muslims in Europe move to the Middle East.

It's a win-win-win - the Muslims get the land they get so worked up about, America gets the talents and brains of Israel and a Europe that is less hostage to the Middle East, and Europe gets a fertile community that is linguistically and culturally much closer to them than the Arabs are as well as be free of the threat of violence and dhimmitude. As for the moved populations, think of what the Israelis can accomplish without having to spend so much time, energy, and money on defense, the illegals of America can find good work in Europe, and the Muslims in Europe get to have the land of Israel and can live under sharia as they claim to want to do.

Yes, the Israelis will lose their holy sites and the Muslims in Europe may lose their freedom, butthere is a good chance both will be happier off in their new locales of America and the Middle East. I think Jacque Chirac would sign up for this, so that takes care of getting multilateral international support (or was it multinational interlateral support - I keep losing track of the latest PC term).

I would even give up credit for this be trial-ballooned as the Condoleeza-Chirac plan for world peace.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

India, Israel, Iran, N. Korea

Things have heated up dramatically in the last 36 hrs. Savage barbarism on the trains of Mumbai has massacred hundreds of people, while Hezbollah has opened a 2nd front with Israel which has picked up the gauntlet. Iran and N. Korea continue to play the great powers off of each other. Many threads - all connected by what?

All of these are intended to keep the democracies off balance. Centers of power can only pay attention to a given number of crises - China used the Cuban missile crisis to invade India in 1962, and the US could not come to India's aid till weeks after the fact. Israel is perfectly capable of handling Hamas and Hezbollah but are they merely opening acts to soften up defenses in advance of Iran's still mysterious plans? India made a business decision in summer 1999 and again late 2001 not to destroy Pakistan (after Pakistan's invasion of Kargil and after the bombing of India's Parliament), rationalizing the economic cost of a final, frontal assault as too high and choosing a battle of attrition, which it is now paying for. The US focuses on Iran one week and is distracted by N. Korea the next.

Something big is afoot, I fear. Two months before 9/11, a few phone calls from Osama sent the US Navy rushing out of Middle East ports, and 2 days before 9/11, OBL had a principal opponent of the Taliban, Ahmad Shah Massoud assassinated. I have no idea how to divine the Islamazoids' intent nor of course Kim Jr.'s loony mind, but I hardly think the flareup of the last few weeks is coincidence.

What should we do? When the opponent has you off balance, best to make him get off-balance too. Summon the democracies and use a new organizational vehicle to strangulate Iran and Syria and North Korea and Pakistan. Name the enemy of Islamic fundamentalism and make it clear to the Saudis, Egyptians, and the rest what needs to be done to the zoid financiers and preachers. Make China responsible for North Korea - we should leave S. Korea which is capable of defending itself and where we are unwelcome, and let go of Japan's leash when it comes to defence and nuclear weaponization. The Cold War depended on the US keeping its countries in line and the Russians their countries in line; it would be nice if the Treasury department was not in hock to the Chinese so that we could implement such a strategy for the Korean peninsula without financial pressure.

As for Pakistan, the day of reckoning will be costlier the longer it is put off. Musharraf is not an ally, only an Arafat with a suit and tie. India and the US have to start coming to terms with what it will take solve the Pakistan problem - a full-scale invasion, defanging of the nuclear sites, and eventual breakup of Pakistan into its 4 states. It is not better to have a few hundred people die every few months.