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July 13, 2006

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Israel might try pulling back to the 1967 borders, and clearing the West Bank settlements, and lift the generally-miserable restrictions on Palestinian life they've imposed, and see how that works.

But I don't think they will.

"Israel might try pulling back to the 1967 borders, and clearing the West Bank settlements, and lift the generally-miserable restrictions on Palestinian life they've imposed, and see how that works."

Presumably withdrawing from Lebanon and withdrawing from Gaza and announcing forthcoming withdrawal from most of the West Bank is so insignificant it isn't even worth mentioning.

What might have been an appropriate or useful response from Palestinians to these actions, do you think?

Presumably withdrawing from Lebanon and withdrawing from Gaza and announcing forthcoming withdrawal from most of the West Bank is so insignificant it isn't even worth mentioning.

"Most of the West Bank?" Presumably you're familiar with maps like this one. And what is the effect of "withdrawing" from Gaza and Lebanon if it means returning in force every now and then, and occasionally lobbing shells on families on the beach in the meantime?

What should the Palestinian response to all of this have been? Well, not kidnapping Israeli soldiers would be a nice start, and not lobbing home-made rockets at Israeli towns would be desirable, too.

"I am left wondering just what it is Israel hopes to accomplish with these strikes."

For me, it is too soon to tell. If these attacks by Hamas and Hezbollah are connected to some near-future events in the middle-east, then Israel may be pre-emptively reducing some vulnerabilities. We'll know more in a few months. If nothing else happens, then it is as Andrew describes.

OTOH, I was reminded that both times Saddam was under imminent threat, he very early attempted to draw Israel into the war. He failed, but the PTB in Syria & Iran are a whole lot smarter than Saddam, and have more assets and options. This is also only speculation, and will need time to become either prescience or my usual madness.

Heck, really smart would be for Iran to plan this in order to delay an attack on Iran. I now really do believe an attack on Iran is coming, and by the US, not Israel.

The moment when I went beyond pessimism into despair about this conflict was when I was living in Israel, back in 1983 (I think), and I had this little realization:

Suppose the perfectly fair and just and generally wonderful settlement of your choice is adopted by both sides. Assume that it involves two states. At some point, someone on the Palestinian side would do something that Israel would interpret, perhaps not unreasonably, as an act of intolerable aggression. (Note that the class of things that can reasonably be so interpreted is larger than the class of things of which that interpretation is true. Note also that the action, whatever it is, would not have to be done by the Palestinian government; just by someone that government could not wholly control.)

At that point, Israel would probably invade, or at least do something that would worsen the situation (not that it would at all have to be an unreasonable thing for Israel to do, since the class of things that would make the situation worse is extremely large), in which case the Palestinians would respond, and eventually Israel would invade.

And then we'd be back where we started, except with more dead people and less grounds for hope.

"Presumably you're familiar with maps like this one."

Yes. I didn't say I'm for that map. I'm not.

Not that I believe I'm competent to map out the fine details of a fair final settlement, to be sure. But I do agree that Israel should surrender much more territory than that. That's why I wrote "And, yeah, I think they should withdraw from most all, perhaps all, of the other settlements, to[o]" here some minutes ago.

Although, to be sure, that wasn't a clear or comprehensive statement by me, and "territories of the West Bank" would have been a better formulation.

I'm certainly not someone who makes a case that Israel has committed no grievances against Palestinians, or never committed atrocities or crimes, or that Palestinians don't have plenty of legitimate issues to be enraged about, you know. They certainly do. As I've pointed out many times, I spent many decades supporting Peace Now, Meretz, the sort of agenda New Jewish Agenda stood for, the rights of Israeli Arabs, the need to make peace, the need to give up non-small territory, the need to withdraw, and so on. And at times I've been called a kapo, a self-hating Jew, a traitor, a fool, and so on, from the other side.

Is someone here knowledgeable about the current water situation in I/P (cheers, Andrew) and if so, can s/he give a brief description of such? Last article I looked at, a couple of years ago, suggested that Israel's really giving up control of the West Bank was impossible because of the loss of control of fresh water. Has that situation changed, or were the authors incorrect? I suppose with enough desalination plants, it would be possible, but hellishly expensive, to make the desert bloom.

URGENT!
Even as the administration exploited this Official Story (or "Official Conspiracy Theory") as the pretext to launch new wars long in the making, independent researchers began to accumulate a vast body of evidence suggesting a different narrative for 9/11: that of the Inside Job.
The 9/11 events and the anomalies in the official story raised Unanswered Questions about:
- the unprecedented failure of the US air defense system on the morning of the attacks;
- the AWOL military chain of command during the actual attacks, including the inexplicable behavior of the presidential entourage;
- the seeming impossibility of official claims with regard to Flight 77;
- the evidence that Flight 93 was shot down;
- contradictions and dubious evidence in the official claims about the alleged hijackers and masterminds, and doubts about their real identities;
- signs that the alleged hijackers enjoyed high-level protection against discovery by honest investigators;
- evidence that the alleged hijackers were financed by states allied with US intelligence;
- suspicious and massive international financial trades suggesting foreknowledge of the attacks;
- widespread signs of official foreknowledge and, in fact, advance preparation for the 9/11 attack scenario;
- the long-running links between Islamist fundamentalist terror cells and US covert operations, dating back to CIA support for the anti-Soviet mujahedeen and Osama Bin Ladin himself;
- the demolition-like collapse of the Twin Towers and of a third skyscraper, WTC 7;
- and questions concerning who could have logically expected to derive benefit in the aftermath of a massive attack on the United States.
The suspicions received further confirmation a few weeks after September 11th, with the arrival of anthrax letters targeted only at opposition politicians and media figures, and timed to coincide with the introduction of the USA PATRIOT Act.
Google: 9/11 inside job


My McManusitis has been flaring up ever since the recent hostilities in Israel began. Only I'm betting that we concentrate on Syria first, if only to unify the internal front. We'll relocate our Baghdad assets to Green Zone West and count on the Sunnis to throw up enough confusion to slow Iran. Perhaps the Kurds can be persuaded to move east and bring in the Turks with them. The British will either stay or turn out the lights behind them in Basra as we shall be retreating elsewhere. Sing with me something about feet in ancient times and hope for an echo.

I suppose I'm not too old to be drafted yet. Boots on the ground and all. I'm a 9 1/2. I can make beer though, so maybe I'll get a spot in the rear. I typoed that "spot" as "spit," so maybe the future reveals itself.

Anyway, no real expertise save that which I've imagined. I look forward to being very, very wrong.

Damn, I done been outlooned.

The Greater Middle Eastern War

emptywheel at the Next Hurrah speculates away, but with conflicting links to Arthur Silber (who has predicting the Iranian War for...years?) and Steve Clemons, who says Condi and many in the White House are very unhappy with Israel.

PS:If this is merely? another phase in the age-old coastal battle & I/P, I repeat my std line:I remain skeptical and pessimistic. I had surrendered hope, the moral high-ground, and any attempt at advice twenty years ago.

Full Israeli Invasion of Southern Lebanon ...Ian Welch of BOPNews excerpts and comments on a Stratfor analysis. Israel, according to Stratfor, is re-invading Lebanon all the way to the Bekaa Valley.

Re, the links above, I find Steve Clemons somewhat sad. He has his sources at State, and says Condi has Bush's ear, and Bush etc are gonna really be mad about the way Condi is treated.

He doesn't get it. Bush nods silently at whatever Condi says, and then has a different kind of conversation with Cheney. Bush is a master at having it both ways, being supposedly upset behind the scenes, publicly supportive, and actually not upset at all. Just running Condi like he ran Powell.

Dang, this all makes the passions of my other political blogging haunts seem so irrelevant. Plame? Please. My budding activism in CA-04? Can't do much harm, I guess. Clark looks good in '08. I hope to God somebody blogs some serious f---ing cats tomorrow.

I wouldn't take Statfor very seriously. As usual.

For instance: "Most important, Israel is calling up its reserves. This is never a symbolic gesture in Israel. All Israelis below middle age are in the reserves and mobilization is costly in every sense of the word. If the Israelis were planning a routine reprisal, they would not be mobilizing. But they are,"

Yeah, if Israel is engaging in a full mobilization, it's news to everyone in Israel. All that's happened is that a division has been called up, and that was done weeks ago.

A full mobilization could happen in the future, but there are no present signs of it. Stratfor is full of bull****. As usual.

Not to say that Israel isn't taking very serious and widespread action in Lebanon, though.

If anyone would like to feel more alarmed.

Thanks, Gary, that hit the spot.

"If anyone would like to feel more alarmed?"

Thanks a lot, Mr. Farber. I was alarmed enough already.

Ugh. Not what I wanted to read tonight.

"Stratfor is full of bull****. As usual."

Golly, just don't know who to trust anymore.Strikes me as a factual thing, that should not have been made up out of thin air.
Stratfor should have been embarrassed and be exiled.

I don't trust anybody. Perhaps Stratfor has inside info that hasn't made it to the papers yet. We will see.

What is Welch doing linking them? At least he analyzes a little, the challenges to Iran of their clients being humiliated, and the unlikelihood of Iran actually coming to the aid of Syria.

To be honest, I would consider a mobilization in Israel more likely than Iran trying to march across Iraq to defend Syria. But that's just me.

Failed States

Billmon's usual trenchant analysis:

"In the past, no matter how bad things got in territories, Israeli governments always have had the option of backing off and leaving bad enough alone – relying on the Army or, post-Oslo, the PA to keep a lid on the situation. That was fine as long as the objective was to grow the settlements and quietly tighten Israel’s control over the land and all its resources. But now that the goal is essentially a second partition, Israeli politicians are finding out the hard way that they no longer have the luxury of malign neglect. After six years of pretending they don’t need a Palestinian negotiating partner, they’ve suddenly discovered, much to their horror, that they need one desperately – but have managed to eliminate all the possible candidates."

"Ugh. Not what I wanted to read tonight."

I'm not Ugh. You'll find Ugh in other comments, and then Bob's your uncle.

"To be honest, I would consider a mobilization in Israel more likely than Iran trying to march across Iraq to defend Syria."

If one wants to seriously worry about Iran and Israel -- and I'm not much, yet, myself -- it would be, I think, about Iranian missiles. If it came to it, I'm sure Iran would enjoy airlifting troops into Lebanon, but I don't see Iran or Syria achieving air superiority over Lebanon, so that seems an extremely unlikely eventuality to me. And the notion of all-out war between Iran and Israel also seems unlikely, though it has to be said that unlikely things, including wars, do happen.

But I don't think it pays to be either alarmist or complacent. One set of serious worries at a time, and slow breathing, are in order, in my book.

Oh, and when Ahmadinejad makes anouncements on behalf of the "Islamic world," (as in the story I linked to) that's bullpucky, too. The best way to get the Sunni Arab countries to worry about supporting Hezbollah/Lebanon/Syria/Hamas is for Iran to jump up to speak for the latter. The Arab states, with the semi-exception of Syria, aren't particularly more interested in Iranian hegemony than in Israeli.

"After six years of pretending they don’t need a Palestinian negotiating partner" struck me as Billmon being characteristically unuseful on this subject. Even more so "are openly waging war on the Palestinian people (and now the Lebanese people) as a whole".

well, I personally think Israel has seen too many Chuck Norris movies - the earlier ones

"struck me as Billmon being characteristically unuseful on this subject"

I don't know what you mean by unuseful;it struck me as accurate. Disengagement...Sharon's wall and the withdrawal from Gaza were not negotiating tactics but an attempt to make negotiations unnecessary. I think most of us expected Sharon if he had remained healthy to do some unilateral withdrawal from West Bank settlements.

Billmon's point, that even if the Isreali's were to disengage a problem would remain seemed an important and unusual insight. In other words, Israel has to feed and clothe and support the fiercely proud and independent Palestinians because they cannot find any means or structure or gov't to provide for their own people.

The Palestinians are not starving because of the mean old Israelis;they are starving because they elected Hamas by free choice. Looks to me like they are utterly incapable of self-governance, after 50 years of demanding it at gunpoint.

Iy is exactly as I expected:an independent Palestine is instant failed state.

I'm not Ugh. You'll find Ugh in other comments, and then Bob's your uncle.

So true.

"...and then Bob's your uncle."

Sorry don't get the joke. Please explain, anything will probably do.

I am apparently on an unusual blog, where Billmon is "characteristicly unuseful". Or maybe rilke has rarefied tastes in Bloggers. Most people to the left of Moe appreciate the Whiskey Bar.

As far as his statement about the Palestinian and Lebanese people, I sympathize. I am on record as saying the problems America are having at the moment, foreign and domestic, have less to do with the elected leadership than the people who put them in power. The Republican base are not sheep or idiots, and as long as they prefer scoundrels and incompetents, we will get horrendous policy. I am not yet advocating open war.

The Israelis need to help the Palestinians and Lebanese change their preferences to leadership that will provide an infrastructure, maintain a monopoly on violence, and negotiate in good faith toward peace.

I realize collective punishment is a war crime, but in certain cases, for instance democracies and free elections, there is such a thing as collective guilt. Republicans cannot elect a George Bush, and then wash their hands of him the moment they leave the polls.

even better, google : "9/11 inside job" marblex

and you find this.

I've been looking into the various 9/11 conspiracy theories of late, and found them to be held mainly by people who could best be described as cranks, whose acquaintance with the scientific method appears to be not much deeper than an alley encounter with a hooker, at best.

Now, an actual conspiracy theory that's not constructed almost wholly of previously falsified assertions; that I'd like to see.

I'm hoping that cleek is not a fan of marblex's tirades, for his/her sake. That's one disturbing Google search.

"both Hezbollah and Hamas have been in a state of war with Israel since it came into existence"

Hezbollah was founded in the early eighties as a response to Israel's occupation of Lebanon; Hamas was officially founded in the late eighties (although was active outside Palestine since the seventies) as a response to Israeli occupation of Gaza and the West Bank. While it's certainly true that both Hezbollah and Hamas have been at war with Israel since they came into existence, it's important to note - especially in the context of discussing disproportionate Israeli military responses and the affects they tend to have on the wider Mideast conflict - that even Hamas and Hezbollah are responding to grievances, and adding to that list of grievances by killing dozens of cilivians ehile deepening the impoverishment and misery of the survivors will only help the very organizations Israel is nominally opposed to.

I commented (or thought I did) last night on the curious relationship between anti-semites and other, related crazies and 9/11 conspiracy mavens, and then I saw this.

Then I clicked on the guy's blog, and found this.

Interesting juxtaposition, that. I'm sure that, somewhere, there's an explanation for all of the dead bodies that were found and identified at the respective crash sites that were purportedly faked, but I haven't come across one that doesn't leak more than my tea strainer.

I'm hoping that cleek is not a fan of marblex's tirades

heh. no.

but i remember seeing that "9/11 inside job" line on a 'marblex' post when i was trying to see if marblex was playing the Leonidas game, last week. looks like marblex isn't a faux-loon: s/he's authentic.

The Palestinians are not starving because of the mean old Israelis;they are starving because they elected Hamas by free choice.

Israel has spent years destroying the infrastructure of the occupied territories, making Gaza and the West Bank dependent on Israel for power and water purification, and wiping out the economy of the region by bulldozing communities and farms while turning desperate Palestinians into a source of cheap labor for Israel. Do you mean to tell me this has had no effect whatsoever on the fact that the Palestinian economy is in ruins, that they just kind of screwed it up themselves? This is to say nothing of the sanctions that were imposed on the Palestinian Authority - including the seizure of tax revenue - before the Hamas government even took office this year.

I realize collective punishment is a war crime, but in certain cases, for instance democracies and free elections, there is such a thing as collective guilt.

Israel has a much, much stronger claim to democracy than Palestine does, and there's a very long history of war crimes on the Israeli side, including any number of items that the American left has gotten up in arms at Bush about (sanctioned torture, detention without due process, mass killings of civilians by an occupying military, etc.). Is collective punishment therefore justified on Israel as well? Are you now making Hamas's argument for them?

Slarti: dKos is not my favorite ever blog, but it is worth noting how utterly that post was condemned in comments.

Yes, certainly, hilzoy. It wasn't my intention to be smearing dKos. This time. It's the conspiracy-mongers that have my back up. I'm quite ok with dKos letting that post stand as a monument to stupidity.

The guy in the video I linked to is a professor of philosophy at University of Minnesota; James Fetzer. Ever run into him, or read his work?

I wonder if the non-Shiite elements in Lebanon would be very put out if Israel confined itself to making war on Hezbollah, rather than the whole of Lebanon.

"...and then Bob's your uncle.

Sorry don't get the joke. Please explain, anything will probably do."

Anything. Another. More.

Gary, I see my question is at least partially answered by the WaPo link you posted on the new thread. Interesting.

Slarti: I didn't think you were; I just put that in in case someone hadn't read the comments, since I think that otherwise, the mere existence of that post might lead to, oh, conclusion-drawing and the like. Though actually everyone already has a view on dKos anyways.

Don't know the guy's work, which is slightly surprising, since one of his minor interests, and mine, is animal cognition. I note that he has a whole section of his 'publications' links devoted to JFK conspiracy theorizing.

"Gary, I see my question is at least partially answered by the WaPo link you posted on the new thread. Interesting."

On the one hand, there are certainly plenty of Lebanese who would be thrilled to see Hezbollah crushed, particularly if the Israelis did it, rather than restarting the civil war.

On the other hand, it's important to remember that the whole thing about Hezbollah is that they're Shi'ite, and they take Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei as their ultimate leader, in most cases, and that fighting Hezbollah plays into the whole regional Sunni/Shi'ite set of stresses, which are already deeply stressed in Iraq, and after the Iran-Iraq War, and the entire history of the Islamic split.

So there's also an element of pumping more gasoline fumes into the air in the region, so to speak, even without the direct connections to Syria and Iran, which are, of course, key. (And it's extremely interesting how careful Israel seems to be being to studiously pay little public attention to Syria just now.)

Naturally, an awful lot of people on the left, in the U.S. and elsewhere, are gearing up to put all this into the "it's all about The Neocons Getting Their War On With Iran" box.

Me, well, I dunno precisely who favors what Iran policy in the U.S. government just now, and whose power dominates (particularly where the precise Cheney/Rice power balance lies), and I'd certainly agree that there are disparate interests in our government, and some are very belligerent towards Iran, but mostly I think that for now, this isn't particularly about the U.S., and that it's a typical mistake of both Americans and much of the world to always want to see events as revolving around the U.S.; this event, so far, doesn't.

I've actually got no problem with folks that indulge themselves in conspiracy theories, but it does sort of annoy me when they take themselves far more seriously than is justified. It's almost as if a subset of the population is living in active denial of the scientific method.

Not that I think the scientific method is the cure for absolutely everything, mind you. But it does have its uses.

More regional analysis.

"this isn't particularly about the U.S."

Exactly. This is why I effectively pooh-poohed the notion that our military might could have much of an impact: because Israel would almost certainly have to ask us, first. During GW1, I believe we emplaced Patriot batteries in various places around Israel (as well as Saudi Arabia and Bahrain), but those were purely for missile defense. Gary would probably know if our armed forces have come to the aid of those of Israel in other ways; I know of none.

The way out, as I see it, is to undermine the war process (reversing the more common efforts to "undermine the peace process.")

There are a plethora of things which support conflict in this region. We can't erase history, nor change anyone's skin color or parentage. We oughtn't mass convert either population to another or third religion.

I bet Shebaa farms has a chance to be undermined. Lebanon claims it. It is most likely Syrian, and likely never has been Lebanese. Assuming Lebanon doesn't claim it stole the land from Syria, the division there was the one set up by France in May, 1918. [There was a northern Syrian boundary adjustment in 1919, and that new map was stable until 1925]

But it doesn't matter if we can convince Lebanon to stop demanding Shebaa or not.

Any source of irritation must be undermined.


"Gary would probably know if our armed forces have come to the aid of those of Israel in other ways; I know of none."

Off-hand, historically there has been plenty of technological development colloboration, of course, and buying of supplies and technology from each other, and obviously the financial support from the U.S., particulary after 1973 and then the Israeli-Egyptian treaty, but direct involvement of U.S. armed forces in some sort of Israeli military action? Unless one counts intelligence sharing, nothing particularly stark springs immediately to mind. Unless one counts the 1973 airlift.

Too touchy politically, basically.

bob: "I am apparently on an unusual blog, where Billmon is "characteristicly unuseful". Or maybe rilke has rarefied tastes in Bloggers. Most people to the left of Moe appreciate the Whiskey Bar."

bob, you dropped my "on this issue". I read Billmon daily, though I think the quality has dropped since not long past his recent hiatus. I find his writings on Israel to show an unfortunate degree of paranoia.

"bob, you dropped my "on this issue"."

Yeah, I missed that. And you are right,I have noticed a slant to Bullmon's I/P posts. OTOH, I didn't find this particular post slanted, or a lot worse than much else being written about Israel. It is very hard to write anything useful or sane, especially if you have been watching for forty years.

As I said, I think Billmon's point that withdrawal and walls is another in a long line of failed strategies is a very important one. I have expected this result for years. Once Palestine becomes an independent state rather than occupied territory, it becomes a target for war. However, war will be just another failed strategy.

Billmon seems to be astonished that Israel is both our ally and spying on us, which is something I've been being advised of on a yearly basis for the last decade or more.

Of course, maybe I'm misreading, which is always a possibility.

"...but mostly I think that for now, this isn't particularly about the U.S."

The US & Israel might see it that way, and even perhaps Hamas & Hezbollah see it that way, but I am not sure at this particular time Iran & Syria see it as none of their concern, or see no connection between the US and Israel.

And if Israel does decide to go against the sponsors and patrons, Iran & Syria, even if the US wanted to play innocent bystander, which would be nearly impossible, the large footprint in the middle of the conflict is also a large and productive target.

I am not saying the US will go fight besides Israel in Lebanon. But are you saying that if Irael decides on a large strategic airstrike on Iran, the US shrugs and says not our business or concern?

"Billmon seems to be astonished that Israel is both our ally and spying on us"

Exactly. Those posts have bothered me. But I do not remember Billmon writing the kind of stuff you see at Crooked Timber or Tapped.

I don't normally read Billmon, so I didn't notice any difference.

I think it's probably fairly accurate to say that our allies Israel are also near the top of the list of countries to be wary of as regards espionage. Not because they bear us any ill will, I'd guess, so much as that they're absolutely determined. We get warned about doing business in Israel or around Israelis regularly for just that reason: some people have a hard time getting that just because they're our allies doesn't mean you can, for instance, leave a laptop with sensitive information on it lying in your hotel room, when traveling there.

It's the conspiracy-mongers that have my back up.

I apologize if I'm derailing discussion at all - despite that derailing I/P arguments strikes me as perhpas a just and good thing to do - but has anyone else noticed that the 9/11-conspiracy movement would seem to be slowly but steadily creeping into the mainstream?

After 9/11, there seemed to be no adherents outside of the normal crank-circles. But now, I'm becoming terrified as I meet more and more people in real life who seem to entertain various aspects of it.

"...but has anyone else noticed that the 9/11-conspiracy movement would seem to be slowly but steadily creeping into the mainstream?"

Yes. It makes me very irate. Barbara O'Brien has done some excellent posts on the issue from a leftish perspective.

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