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July 26, 2006

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"I find it mind numbing to see such unseriousness expressed with so much force (and be so popular)."

But the writers of such think it's serious, don't they, more or less? I apologize aforehand for the perhaps excessively amorphous quality of the following thought: it's been claimed that one of the problems of modern writing is that it's too easy to edit what is already written, meaning that the punishment of unclarity or ill-conception of thoughts is too mild to help forestall it at all. Can the same be true of political expression via blogs and radio? The sort of vomiting forth of ideas which once in the public sphere are defended for the sake of personal pride if nothing else, that being an easier course than saying, "Man, I just said something really stupid. Please ignore." Not that I'm advocating censorship. But I have the impression of a tragedy-of-the-commons type of business going on, where the violence and noise of expressions like Reynolds' above, or, say, the Ledeen Doctrine, as I've heard it referred to, makes it all the harder to talk like adults. (I'm reminded, for an example of contrast, of the famous stories of the Lincoln-Douglas debates. But I've never looked closely enough at those to see how strong the argumentation is in them.)

Bah. Sorry if that doesn't make any sense. Please ignore if signal-to-noise ratio is too low, I have to go back to number-crunching.

More bombings of Beirut, however, are probably a bad idea.

Well, that's progress.

I don't mean to beat up on Reynolds

why not?

when Reynolds talks about reaching for stick-Israel, he's not describing this world. He's describing some alternate universe in which we have a helluva lot more options than we do.

He spends a lot of time in that universe, and assorted others. Maybe its part of his dream to be downloaded to a computer and shot into space, or whatever it is the sadlyno! boys are making fun of him for these days.

I do realize that it can feel pretty good to lead with your testicles (real or metaphorical) in the privacy of your home.

Much, if not most, of Bush foreign policy is to go around and show everyone how big his dick is. Other nations might be impressed at first, but eventually they become annoyed and begin to wonder if there might be something wrong with him.

Ugh? Ugh. I didn't need that mental image.

Other nations might be impressed at first

Or politely pretend to be impressed, rather.

well said, von. please continue your efforts to bring sanity to this discussion. (and the smashy-smashy-smashy bit was just great).

Or politely pretend to be impressed, rather.

I'm pretty sure that Iran is snickering and pointing.

Or politely pretend to be impressed, rather.

that too

++ug - sorry.

Nonetheless, I don't think it makes sense for Israel to stop quite yet, with soldiers in the field and actively engaged.

Not to be snide, Von, but Israel will have soldiers in the field and actively engaged until they stop. As a matter of fact soldiers are not actively engaged and not in the field is, by its definition, stopping. This is not a rationale for continuing the invasion/occupation/punitive mission or what ever the hell it is that they are trying to accomplish.

The problem with putting all your chips in the pot when you don't have that good a hand is that you can only get them back if the other player's hand is worse (or if he plays it worse). The solution is not to put more chips into the pot than your hand justifies. Putting more in when you already know the other guy has a better hand, and he knows you know, is just dopey.

Those interested might want to take a look at Abu Aardvark's latest. America's strength came more from the perception that it could be a more or less neutral arbiter. As the notion shifts to America being the Punisher, picking up the stick of Israel, it seems that perception is as damaging to America as left types criticizing the administration is claimed to be.

When precisely is the last time that the US has been seen as a neutral arbiter in the Middle East? The US has been accused of being in bed with Israel just about every day of my entire lifetime.

A couple links to Bill Arkin of WaPo, who seems to think Israel knows what it's doing.

Israel's Approach to Peacekeepers There may be ambiguity in the header

Rice Give Israel More Time

Posted without comment, really. Ok, just a different analysis than what I have been reading recently.
...
Someone mentioned the possibility of Turkish peacekeepers, but I am not sure the Turks are in the mood:

The Next Front Newsweek on terrorism in southeast Turkey.

"But what to tell the Turks, who over the last week lost 15 soldiers to terror attacks launched by separatist Kurds from neighboring Iraq? Many Turkish leaders are pressing for cross-border tactical air assaults on the guerrillas."

The GWOT requires resolve and consistent tactics. Kurdistan must be taught to control its terrorists, and Turkey has the right to do the teaching. I would insert an irony emoticon, but I really can't tell anymore.

America's strength came more from the perception that it could be a more or less neutral arbiter.

No, America's strength came, and continues to come, from having a terrifying military machine and an economy big enough to pay for it. But there used to be a velvet glove covering the mailed fist. Then America decided that looked too effete, so now we just see the bare metal.

What's the State Department for, under the new dispensation? Why not just get retired generals to explain that resistance is futile? You don't need people who have studied languages and international relations to pursue this kind of foreign policy. Condi Rice really should have ignored Lebanon and just said "we'll get to that when the Israelis have finished softening up the Arabs". That's the message she conveyed in any case.

hate to interrupt an anti-Reynolds rant but if you think that the US hasn't enabled Israel to wield the stick, hasn't at the very least condoned the present wielding and couldn't at any time have put an immediate end to their wielding it had they so wished, then it's you who lives in a parallel universe

Israel is a de facto client state of the US as a look at a few numbers shows and a look at AIPAC's website will reveal

Israel is a de facto client state of the US

Oh, novakant, the relationship is far more complex than that. And far more screwed-up than that. There's a good argument to be made that the client-patron relationship runs both ways (insofar that the mighty lobbying group AIPAC actually represents the interests of the Israeli government, which is debatable).

A third thread about Lebanon? I'll just link to my previous comment.

When precisely is the last time that the US has been seen as a neutral arbiter in the Middle East?

RWIW which was 'more or less'. I realize that it is an article of faith for you that 1)the US is being neutral (possibly to the point of bending over backwards to accomodate Arab regimes and 2)ME nations are lying when they say they aren't, so I used 'more or less neutral' so as to avoid a fight. I wish you would respect that rather than popping off a snarky question when I was merely introducing some outside material, which strongly suggests that you couldn't be bothered to read the link.

yeah stickler, agreed, "client state" is a tad imprecise; but at the end of the day it's the US which provides the money and the guns and AIPAC are the ones that want something which only the US can give them -consequently, if the US really wanted to shut this current conflict down, they could have done that easily

No, I read the link and it gave me the unshocking view that the US is getting blamed for Israel's actions. He had a relatively unlikely Suez comparison as well.

Seb: I don't know how we give off the impression of not being neutral.

"Or politely pretend to be impressed, rather."

Why yes Master Georgie! Your winky *is* a big one!


(Just picture that in the voice of Tony Blair)

I read the link and it gave me the unshocking view that the US is getting blamed for Israel's actions. He had a relatively unlikely Suez comparison as well

And I am supposed to understand that is what you meant? Don't hog the mind reading cap!

Von -- when I read Hilzoy's post I got something different out of it. She said that bombing Beiruit and so much infrastructure was collective punishment against the population of Lebanon for the actions of an unpopular minority. And from the trouble Israel is having in S Lebanon, Lebanon's claim that they can't do much about Hezbollah is credible. (That said, there's no doubt Israel will eventually prevail at the border. Whether that has any lasting effect, or degrades Hezbollah significantly remains to be seen.) And the reaction has been to make Hezbollah more popular among the Sunnis, who had previously been pretty strongly against them.

More intentional bombings of civilians are _probably_ a bad idea. That seems true. A bit weak in the knees - but true.

Don N.

Somehow, I get the feeling that the dog isn't scared of the stick, regardless of whether we hold it or not.

It seems highly probable Israel is really going to regret this action. The idea of an international force of the type Rice desires is laughable. We - the US - would normally be the only nation willing to put itself into hostile territory and clean out a nest of terrorists. I seriously doubt that anyone else will be willing to step up and try that particular weight stack.

So, the result will likely be yet another great power reduced to a stand off by a rag tag team of brutal, nasty people.

I got to say. This whole manly use of force seems to really be working out sooooo much better than the zillions of alternative strategies available. Iraq is a bloody civil war with civilians filling the morgue like stacked firewood. Afghanistan isn't even remembered and is probably well on its way to another bumper crop of opium and filled with newly reorganized and rejuvenated Taliban.

And now it seems like we'll have Israel in pretty much the same position with Hezbollah. Syria and Iran must be laughing themselves silly with the presents we keep handing them on a silver platter.

I'm not sure anyone could have predicted a more amazingly stupid and counterproductive outcome five years ago. You would have to work really hard to screw the pooch this badly.


You'd have to work really, really hard.

Thank "Bob" we have a host of industrious, stupid people willing to put in extra hours to keep things really messed up for decades to come.

Man, you just can't make this stuff up.

Could U.S. Troops End Up in Lebanon?

According to the former official, Israel and the United States are currently discussing a large American role in exactly such a “multinational” deployment, and some top administration officials, along with senior civilians at the Pentagon, are receptive to the idea.
The uniformed military, however, is ardently opposed to sending American soldiers to the region, according to my source. “They are saying 'What the fvck?'” he told me. “Most of our combat-ready divisions are in Iraq or Afghanistan, or on their way, or coming back. The generals don't like it because we're already way overstretched.”

Oh, and the above naughty word is in the orgiginal Harper's article...

God, I hope the source in that Harper's article is wrong.

If that source is not wrong, then this administration has managed to outdo my estimation of their utter craziness yet again.

"Top administration officials"?

Jesus H. F. Christ, they really do think of US soldiers as toys, don't they? "Break some, lose some, it's no big deal; they're just painted tin. We can buy a few more."

Latest word on NPR is that Israel expects the war to go on for a few more weeks. Israel didn't expect Hezbollah to be as strong as it is; Hezbollah didn't expect the Israeli response to be as intensive as it is.

"No one could have expected..." that phrase, that damned phrase, over and over again.

And the longer the fighting goes on, the more likely it is to spread - not only in terms of spreading further into Lebanon, or into Israel, but also in terms of how the Sunni-Shia divide will play out, or what Syria and Iran might do.

I'll give the Bush Administration this much: If a global conflict is what they wanted all along, they've done a bang-up job of laying the tinder. They've managed to re-create conditions very similar to the leadup to WWI - only this time, we're Germany, with the Bush Administration collectively playing the role of Kaiser Wilhelm.

Well, I'm sure we'll be all treated to another round of why the draft isn't necessary and why the word "Chickenhawk" is truly the worst characterization evah.

It'll be cool to hear the record played again and again.

Why not just get retired generals to explain that resistance is futile?

Omigod--Rumsfeld is a Vogon!

Bad poetry, even. It all makes sense now.

They've managed to re-create conditions very similar to the leadup to WWI - only this time, we're Germany, with the Bush Administration collectively playing the role of Kaiser Wilhelm.

I've always thought it was more like precious Israel in the role of Serbia, with President Fuckwit supplying the same informed shrewdness that the last Czar so memorably employed.

Why yes Master Georgie! Your winky *is* a big one!

I was thinking more like "Wow, I had no idea American nanotechnology had progressed so far."

by the way, von, since neither Greg Djeredjian nor I have expressed all of my misgivings about this yet (both of us having focussed, so far, on the effects on Lebanon and Israel, as opposed to possible broader implications), I must be a lot more pessimistic than you.

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